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Children in conflict with the law

‘Children in conflict with the law’ is defined as anyone under 18 who comes into contact with the justice system as a result of being suspected or accused of committing an offence. In some cases, children who engage in criminal behaviour have been used or coerced by adults. Most children in conflict with the law have committed petty crimes, some of which are not considered criminal when committed by adults. Children are arrested and detained by police and sent to institutions, including prisons, under systems of justice which in many cases are set up for adults. Save the Children advocates for child-friendly juvenile justice measures that place children’s best interests at their core.

Very often when a child comes into conflict with the law it represents a fundamental failure to fulfil that child’s rights to adequate care and protection at an earlier point in their lives. Large numbers of children in conflict with the law are socio-economic victims, denied their rights to education, health, shelter, care and protection. Many of them have had little or no access to education. Many are working children and some have left their homes and taken to the streets to escape from violence and abuse at the hands of their families. Once having entered the justice system children are often held in detention for long periods awaiting trial.This makes them vulnerable to further violence and abuse.


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