An age of complexity: children and criminal responsibility in law

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This article examines the age of criminal responsibility in law. It argues that the fair imputation of criminal responsibility requires understanding of a number of interlinked concepts, including knowledge of wrongfulness, understanding of criminality and its consequences and an internalized moral appreciation of the
quality of the conduct. Taken together, alongside the child’s psychological development and lived experience, the matter is complex. Development from baby to adulthood also involves a shift from dependence to autonomy. The age of criminal responsibility must be set so as properly to take into account both the underlying complexity and the acquisition of autonomy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-160
Number of pages16
JournalYouth Justice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013


  • children
  • criminal responsibility
  • law
  • youth justice
  • criminal capacity
  • doli incapax
  • age of criminal responsibility


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