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Research Line: Youth Justice Studies


The CRiS research line on Youth Justice Studies mainly consists of five research areas:

(1) Historical perspective on youth crime and deviant behaviour, self-reported delinquent behaviour, and social and judicial reactions to youth crime and deviant behaviour. For example, in two pioneering studies we explored youth justice practices between 1830-1912 and between 1912-1965. (

2) The youth justice system as a legal system. Legal-criminological questions are examined, such as the procedural guarantees afforded to minors, the legal frameworks of children’s rights, and juvenile judges and attorneys as legal actors within the Youth Court. Recent research undertaken by our team highlighted and discussed the role of communication in Youth Courts, interactions during police interrogations of juvenile suspects, and the right to complain in youth institutions.

(3) Social and judicial responses to young people and their alleged deviant, problematic, or delinquent behaviour. This research focuses on community sanctions for juveniles, youth detention, gendered practices in the Youth Court, the experiences of Romani girls in the juvenile justice system, and the transfer of youth offenders to Adult Court.

(4) Profiles and pathways of juveniles who have been in contact with the youth justice / youth protection system. Our team has conducted several studies on the profile and subsequent delinquent life pathways of youngsters who were involved in the youth justice system and/or extrajudicial youth protection services. Recent studies explored gendered pathways of female prisoners, delinquent pathways into adulthood of girls who appeared before the Youth Court in the 1990’s, and of juveniles transferred to Adult Court between 1999-2001. Such studies also focus on how adults, formerly involved in the youth justice system (e.g. care-leavers), consider their experiences as having shaped their lives and their identity.

(5) Voicing youth at social risk. Many studies conducted by our team have given at risk youths a voice by emphasising their experiences. For example, current research conducted in close cooperation with the inter-disciplinary VOIC research group, is focused on the experiences of young asylum-seekers. and on the relationship between media messages and processes of othering that these young people experience.



Jenneke Christiaens

Els Dumortier

An Nuytiens