In our society the actions of adults are controlled by two types of laws-
1- Criminal Law
2- Civil Law
Criminal laws prohibit activities that are injurious to the well being of society, such as drug, theft, and rape; criminal legal actions are brought by state authorities against private citizens.
In contrast, civil laws control interpersonal or private activities and legal actions are usually initiated by individual citizens. Contractual relationships and personal conflicts (torts) are subject to civil law.
Today juvenile delinquency falls somewhere between criminal and civil law. Under parens patriae, delinquent acts are not consider criminal violations. The legal action against them is similar (though not identical) to a civil action that, in an ideal situation, is based on their need for treatment. This legal theory recognizes that children who violate the law are in need of the same treatment as are law abiding citizens who cannot care for themselves.
Delinquent behavior is treated more leniently than adult misbehavior, because the law considers juveniles to be less responsible for their behavior than adults. Compare with adults, adolescents are believe to-
- Have a stronger preference for risk and novelty
- Be less accurate in assessing the potential consequences of risky conduct
- Be more impulsive and more concerned with short term consequences
- Have a different appreciation of time and self control
- Be more susceptible to peer pressure
Kirtida Gautam is a clinical psychologist and the author of novel #IAm16ICanRape: The War Against Rape Culture.