Children in care: The criminalisation of children

Alison Gerard, Emma Colvin, Andrew McGrath - Prisons and Community Corrections


This chapter provides an overview of one of the key factors implicated in young people’s contact with the criminal justice system: the criminalisation of children with care experience. People with care experience are those who have been removed from their parents during their childhood and placed in the care of other family members, foster carers, or state managed facilities such as group homes. There is growing evidence from both Australia and international jurisdictions, that children with care experience are more likely to come into contact with the criminal justice system and, further, that it is the care environment itself that contributes much to this over-representation. This chapter examines how this criminalisation occurs, particularly in the residential care setting. It is a crucial question to examine as there is evidence this over-representation extends into the adult correctional system, and into adulthood. As such, this chapter provides critical information for practitioners about the experiences of people with care-experience. Further, it presents the state of Australian and international research in this often overlooked area.