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An age of complexity : children and criminal responsibility in law

McDiarmid, Claire (2013) An age of complexity : children and criminal responsibility in law. Youth Justice, 13 (2). pp. 145-160. ISSN 1747-6283


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This article examines the age of criminal responsibility in law. It argues that the fair imputation of criminal responsibility requires understanding of a number of interlinked concepts, including knowledge of wrongfulness, understanding of criminality and its consequences and an internalized moral appreciation of the quality of the conduct. Taken together, alongside the child’s psychological development and lived experience, the matter is complex. Development from baby to adulthood also involves a shift from dependence to autonomy. The age of criminal responsibility must be set so as properly to take into account both the underlying complexity and the acquisition of autonomy.