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Redefinition of Juvenile Protection? (From Fonction sociale du tribunal de la jeunesse, P 69-84, 1974 - See NCJ-72264)

NCJ Number
H vanBostraeten
Date Published
16 pages
Three models for dealing with delinquent youths in Holland are presented: the juvenile protection model, the social (emancipation) model, and the democratic model.
The Dutch juvenile protection model has developed since 1912, and is characterized by ever increasing intervention of government authorities in a broadening range of situations, including civil matters. Since the 1965 juvenile law in particular, the number of persons and professions involved in work related to juvenile protection has increased rapidly. These efforts have tended to affect mainly the lower classes. The validity of this approach has been questioned by both interactionists and historical critical researchers: not only does the approach label criminal types and encourage self-fulfilling prophecies, but it uses the child's 'best interests' as a means of social control, upholding the position of the dominant classes. The social or emancipation model advocates short-term placement of juvenile offenders in institutions as a penalty for their actions. Judges serve as the 'starter motor' of assistance, referring juveniles to other agencies, although this is not really in keeping with the law of 1965. The goal of this approach is not just to protect juveniles, but to emancipate them so that they can exercise self control in harmony with society. The individual juvenile stands in the middle of a series of concentric circles of assistance and is transferred to the next circle by the juvenile court. Despite the ostensible goal of emancipation, the system actually represents a progressive limitation of citizens' self-determination. The true goal of the system is actually perpetuation of the status quo. A third, democratic model attempts to avoid the progressive reduction of citizens' autonomy, and the growth of interventionism as a means of eliminating any deviation from the norm. Emphasis is instead on the individual emancipated citizen who determines his own needs. Boundaries for the collective interests are defined by the constitutional democratic goals of the nation. Under this system, the citizen can be held criminally responsible for his actions and called upon to pay compensation for damages. Criminal charges are kept to a minimum and welfare institutions are reduced. Within such a system, juveniles should not be treated as a separate group, but rather as an integral part of society, with rights and responsibilities. Protection should only be provided to very young children by social institutions on a strictly voluntary basis. In a democratic society, social control must guarantee democratic principles and human rights; consequences of laws and institutions must constantly serve as the basis for testing the validity of goals and means. Notes are supplied.