Disparities in Responses to Children Who Commit Serious Offences: What Does the Evidence Tell Us?

Yannick van den Brink, L. Forde, P. Burghout, D. Beljaars

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


Children from ethnic and racial minorities, Indigenous children, children with disabilities, children with mental health problems, children from low socioeconomic backgrounds, as well as boys, are vastly overrepresented in child prisons and detention centres across the globe (Nowak 2019). Evidence suggests that while differential offending rates and/or selective or discriminatory law enforcement practices may partially explain this, over-representation may also arise due to disparities in court decision-making processes. Informed by two systematic literature reviews, this chapter explores the available empirical evidence of demographic disparities in court responses to children who commit serious offences. The chapter first discusses the available evidence of demographic disparities – along the lines of race/ethnicity, gender, disability, mental health, and socio-economic status – in decision-making on pre-trial remand, transfer to adult court, and sentencing of children in general. It then discusses specific evidence relating to factors impacting the sentencing of children who commit serious crimes and evidence of demographic disparities in court-imposed sentences in such cases. The chapter concludes with reflections on the implications of this evidence for future research, policy, and practice.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResponses to Serious Offending by Children
Subtitle of host publicationPrinciples, Practice and Global Perspectives
EditorsN. Lynch, Y.N. van den Brink, L. Forde
Place of PublicationOxford/New York
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781032107707
ISBN (Print)9781032107585
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Publication series

NameRoutledge Frontiers of Criminal Justice


  • Disparities
  • Juvenile justice
  • Youth justice
  • Serious offending
  • Child justice


Dive into the research topics of 'Disparities in Responses to Children Who Commit Serious Offences: What Does the Evidence Tell Us?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this