Over the last ten years approximately, the question of how to respond appropriately to the offending of young adults has emerged as a point of increased focus within international criminological research and criminal policy. Responding to juvenile offending is a unique policy and practice challenge.

While a substantial proportion of crime is perpetuated by juveniles, most juveniles will ‘grow out’ of offending and adopt law-abiding lifestyles as they mature. It is argued that a range of factors, including juveniles’ lack of maturity, propensity to take risks and susceptibility to peer influence, as well as intellectual disability, mental illness and victimisation, increase juveniles’ risks of contact with the criminal justice system. These factors, combined with juveniles’ unique capacity to be rehabilitated, can require intensive and often expensive interventions by the juvenile justice system.