Youth justice: overview
New Zealand’s youth justice system aims to keep young offenders out of the formal criminal-justice system if possible. When a young person commits a criminal offence, the law is designed to hold them accountable but also to respond in a way that takes account of their age.
This chapter covers:
- the aims and principles guiding the youth justice system
- the ages at which children and young people can be held responsible for different types of crimes
- the special protections for young people when they’re being dealt with by the police
- the different types of action that can be taken against a young offender, particularly youth justice family group conferences and the role of the Youth Court.
Definitions of “child” and “young person”
Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act 1989, s 2
Child – a boy or girl under the age of 14
Young person – a boy or girl who’s aged 14, 15 or 16 – but this doesn’t include anyone of that age who is, or has been, married or in a civil union.