Juvenile delinquency and its relationship to the complex contemporary challenges that confront (certain) young people remain an enigma for many national juvenile justice systems (JJS). One exception to this global trend is Norway, which has experienced low levels of youth crime even though it processes youth within the adult criminal justice system at age 15. With few such exceptions, most industrialised liberal democratic countries have utilised a variety of distinctive JJS separate from their adult criminal justice systems. In this article, the ‘Norwegian model’ is examined to assess whether it is theoretically unique to Norway and, if so, why. The broader political, social and economic contexts appear essential in explaining the success of a JJS embedded in the adult criminal justice system. The article concludes with several policy observations.