Juvenile offending means law breaking by children.
In the past there was little distinction between juvenile offending and that of adults. Children were widely regarded as being able to take responsibility for their own criminal behaviour. This view began to change in the mid to late nineteenth centuries which created the necessity for terms such as juvenile offending. In Tasmania (as elsewhere), the change is reflected in legislation that provided for lighter or more age specific punishment for children.
In 1918, the Children of the State Act abolished the death penalty for children. Under the 1924 Criminal Code, no 'act or omission' by a child under seven was an offence. If a child was under fourteen, he or she had to be capable of understanding why his or her behaviour was an offence.
Increasingly juvenile offenders were not sent to prison but to a training school. In the early twentieth century, the Secretary of the Neglected Children's Department, Frederick Seager, placed a few in the boarding-out system. However, in 2011, young persons under the age of eighteen can still be temporarily held in adult prisons in Hobart and Launceston while awaiting transfers.
Sources used to compile this entry: Petrow, Stefan, Arabs, boys and larrikins: juvenile delinquents and their treatment in Hobart, 1860-1896, Australian Journal of Legal History, vol. 2, 1996, 37-59 pp, http://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=970302608;res=IELAPA.
Prepared by: Caroline Evans
Created: 21 October 2011, Last modified: 5 March 2015