Time, difference and the ethics of children's criminal responsibility

Mathews, Benjamin P. (2003) Time, difference and the ethics of children's criminal responsibility. Newcastle Law Review, 5(2), pp. 65-96.


This article explains Australian legal principles attributing criminal responsibility to children, emphasising the qualities the law deems relevant and irrelevant for this purpose. Drawing on evidence from developmental psychology, the article argues that these principles result in inaccurate and unsound imputations of responsibility and irresponsibility. As well, the article explores theories of moral agency, and psychological evidence about the development of key psychosocial skills (especially empathy, and control of impulses), to inquire whether and under what circumstances it is ethically justifiable to ascribe criminal responsibility to a child offender to then justify sentences of detention. It is concluded that a consideration of qualitative differences in young offenders leads to the realisation that in nearly all cases, sentences other than detention are more ethically, theoretically and practically justifiable.

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ID Code: 12614
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: For more information, please refer to the journal’s website (see hypertext link) or contact the author.
Additional URLs:
Keywords: law, children's criminal responsibility, developmental evidence, theories of moral agency, psychosocial skills, sentencing, detention
ISSN: 1324-8758
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100) > Criminal Law and Procedure (180110)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Research Centres > Law and Justice Research Centre
Current > Schools > School of Law
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2003 Faculty of Law, The University of Newcastle
Deposited On: 25 Feb 2008 00:00
Last Modified: 12 May 2011 02:10

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