The myth of the child offender

Members of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology Children and Young People in the Criminal Justice System Thematic Group bring you this panel session exploring the way the ‘child offender’ has been constructed and understood throughout history and within systems. As a mythical concept the ‘child offender’ is at once something we ‘know’ or recognise, but it’s also an abstract concept that can reduce the ‘child’ to just negative connotations such as lawbreaker or criminal. Myths can present us with shorthand versions of things we take for granted, or can’t explain, or both. As Barthes writes (1957/2009, p.170) “myth acts economically: it abolishes the complexity of human acts, it gives them the simplicity of essences, … things appear to mean something by themselves.” The panel will unpack the concept & construction of the ‘child offender’ both as a ‘reference story with ‘capacity to reveal an underlying truth’’, and a falsehood (i.e. as a legal construct).

Convenors/moderators: Dr Shelley Turner (Monash University), Dr Emma Colvin (Charles Sturt University), Dr Faith Gordon (Monash University)

Panel Members: Dr Diana Johns (the University of Melbourne), Robyn Oxley (Western Sydney University), Dr Susan Baidawi (Monash University)

Event Details