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The human being remains a social animal through individual interactions within the society. Out of such daily interactions, conflicts do arise; which conflicts may be public (like criminal conduct) or private in nature. There thus arises the necessity to lay legitimate and amicable bases upon which such conflicts are to be resolved. One of the most widespread media utilized across the entire breadth of the globe is the conflict resolution through the legally established structures, and more importantly, the court system. While various societies and jurisdictions have had the common interest to solve their conflicts through the court system, there has equally developed an understanding that the court systems ought to be established while taking cognizance of the age of the offender. Consequently, most of the jurisdictions have put in place very succinct and elaborate juvenile courts to take care of the interests of the juvenile delinquents.
One fundamental question that one should endeavor to determine is the reason(s) that have over the years informed the need for the establishment of such institutions. Whereas each of the societies may have had their own reasons for such developments, certain reasons are however common to nearly all the jurisdictions. For instance, it has been pointed out that one such reason is public policy. The public policy arises in this respect, out of the general societal need to protect the children who are a generally vulnerable lot form adverse effects of the adult criminal justice system. It is therefore imperative that every member of the society strive to keep young offenders, like the rest of the other children from the too much exposure that may come with a full fledged criminal trial. Consequently, each society saw the need to adopt a trial system that is devoid of the adversities such as are inherent into the ordinary criminal justice system.
Another reason that was largely responsible for the development of the juvenile courts was the society’s need to adopt a justice system that appreciated the children’s level of biological, hence psychological, development. In the view of developmental psychologists, the youth offenders are a different breed of offenders because of the fact that the children are yet to fully realize their full level of humanity. Consequently, there was seen the need for the adoption of a parallel justice system that took into account the young offenders’ age and the very unique circumstances that informed their criminal tendencies.
In conclusion therefore, it is to be noted that the jurisprudential bases for the juvenile courts are varied. The variety in the bases notwithstanding however, two of the most common reasons were (and still so are) the need for consideration of the offenders’ ages as well as the public policy needs.