Recognising children’s citizenship in the youth justice system

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Citizenship literature has tended to portray children as ‘citizens in the making’ or as citizens invested with full agency. English law treats young people in an ambiguous fashion, sometimes as pre-citizens and consequently in need of protection and sometimes as full citizens, principally so in the context of the youth justice system. This article will examine how neither the view of a child as a ‘citizen in waiting’ or as a citizen with full agency adequately protects their status as a child citizen in the context of responding to their antisocial and offending behaviour. Seeing young people in conflict with the law through the lens of a ‘different-centred’ youth citizenship offers a potentially workable child-centred conception of children’s citizenship which allows for children’s antisocial and offending behaviour to be regulated in a way which acknowledges the child’s particular socio-economic circumstances, evolving capacities and awareness but does not diminish their equality of status as citizens.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-37
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Social Welfare & Family Law
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jan 2015


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