Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: June 02, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412971928 | Print ISBN: 9781412950855 | Online ISBN: 9781412971928| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Children in American society have, historically, been regarded as innocent beings who are still at a relatively early stage of their development and are behaviorally, cognitively, and emotionally immature. Society is keen to impute to children all of the characteristics that are believed to represent the vulnerable nature of childhood—goodness, inexperience, and blamelessness; consequently, when children violate the law, social sensibilities are offended. It is inconceivable that one so young could commit so horrendous an act as robbery, rape, or murder. Yet juveniles (as the law regards those who have not yet reached the age of majority in a given jurisdiction) commit crimes varying from the more trivial (such as truancy or petty vandalism) to the gravest (such as arson or homicide), and the law has established mechanisms to deal with those eventualities. This entry examines the types of behaviors that constitute juvenile crime, as well as the characteristics of ...