A juvenile court
(or young offender's court
) is a tribunal having special authority
to pass judgments for crimes that are committed by children or adolescents who have not attained the age of majority
. In most modern legal systems, children and teens who commit a crime are treated differently from legal adults that have committed the same offense.
Industrialized countries differ in whether juveniles should be tried
as adults for serious crimes or considered separately. Since the 1970s, minors have been tried increasingly as adults in response to "increases in violent juvenile crime." Young offenders may still not be prosecuted as adults. Serious offenses,
such as murder or rape,
can be prosecuted through adult court in England. However, as of 2007, no United States data reported any exact numbers of juvenile offenders prosecuted as adults. In contrast, countries such as Australia and Japan are in the early stages
of developing and implementing youth-focused justice initiatives as a deferment from adult court.
Globally, the United Nations' has encouraged nations to reform their systems to fit with a model in which "entire society [must] ensure the harmonious development of adolescence" despite the delinquent behavior that may be causing issues. The hope was to create a more "child-friendly justice." Despite all the changes made by the United Nations, the rules in practice are less clear cut. Changes in a broad context cause issues of implementation locally, and international crimes committed by youth
are causing additional questions regarding the benefit of separate proceedings for juveniles.
Issues of juvenile justice
have become increasingly global in several cultural contexts. As globalization
has occurred in recent centuries, issues of justice, and more specifically protecting the rights of children as it relates to juvenile courts, have been called to question. Global policies regarding this issue have become more widely accepted, and a general culture of treatment of children offenders has adapted to this trend.