Pub. date: 2002 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412950664 | Print ISBN: 9780761922582 | Online ISBN: 9781412950664| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Shela Van Ness
In keeping with early Anglo-Saxon traditions, American law prior to 1899 treated children age seven and older as criminals if they broke the law. Children and teenagers were subjected to the same punishments as adults, including whipping, branding, dunking in water, and hanging. The law simply did not recognize differences between young people and adults. By the middle of the nineteenth century, however, North Americans were beginning to view children differently, partly as a result of the many changes taking place in American society. These changing views of childhood led to the establishment of the first juvenile court in Cook County (Chicago), Illinois, in 1899. The court was designed to address all legal problems involving children and younger teenagers, and it acknowledged that children and teenagers differ from adults in significant ways. Its proceedings were conducted very differently from those of criminal courts. Public interest in this new idea led ...