Credit points


Campus offering

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Unit rationale, description and aim

Youth crime comprises a significant proportion of all crimes. It is however unlike adult crime in many ways and therefore needs separate institutions and policies that sit alongside the adult justice system. Having a knowledge and understanding of these institutions, their roles and policies, the juvenile justice system as a whole and its relationship to the adult justice system, is needed to be effective in employment contexts involving any aspect of criminal justice.

This unit begins by helping students to identify and describe the key institutions and policies in the Juvenile justice system. Students will then develop their understanding of these institutions and policies, with a particular emphasis on the ways they help to support human dignity, recognise and accommodate diversity, and promote the common good. As students progress, this unit will help them develop a broader understanding of the juvenile justice system as a whole, rather than only the component parts. This is reflected in an understanding of emerging philosophies and trends within the criminal justice system, the efficacy of particular component parts as well as their co-dependencies on other parts.

The aim of this unit is to develop students' knowledge and understanding of the institutions, roles and policies of the Juvenile justice system, with a focus on Australia.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Identify and describe key institutions and policies in the juvenile justice system (GA5).

LO2 - Critically evaluate the institutions and policies of the Australian juvenile justice system, having regard to the dignity of the individual, human diversity, the common good and the need for a sustainable environment (GA1, GA2, GA5, GA9). 

LO3 - Critically analyse and evaluate emerging philosophies, policies and trends in the juvenile justice system (GA2, GA5, GA9). 

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


Topics will include:

  • Introduction to Juvenile Justice.
  • Theories of Juvenile Crime.
  • Contemporary Social Context of Juvenile Crime.
  • Key Institutions in Juvenile Justice.
  • Class and Juvenile Justice.
  • Indigenous Youth.
  • Ethnic Minorities.
  • Gender Issues.
  • Policing of Young People.
  • Sentencing and Institutional Responses.
  • Prevention of Youth Crime.
  • Restorative Justice and Conferencing

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit comprises 150 hours of study in total. It will be taught over a 12 week semester, with one 2-hour lecture followed by a 1-hour tutorial each week. Other study components might include on-line webinars, podcasts, readings, discussion forums etc. The balance of the hours is comprised of self-directed study.

This unit begins by introducing students to the key institutions and roles of the juvenile justice system in Australia. This is the basic knowledge of the system students need. It then helps students to develop their understanding of these institutions and their policies. When doing this, particular emphasis will be placed on examining the ways they help to support human dignity, recognise and accommodate diversity, promote the common good, and the need for a sustainable environment. In the later parts of the unit, the different institutions and roles of the criminal justice system are viewed more as a system of complimentary parts, operating through the application of different philosophies. As a consequence, students will develop their understanding of trends in the juvenile justice system, and emerging philosophies.

Assessment strategy and rationale

This unit will be assessed by three assignments: an online multiple-choice exam; a research essay; and a report.

The assessment tasks have been explicitly created to address the identified Learning Outcomes for this unit (assessment of learning) and designed to allow students to learn about juvenile justice as required by professionals working in the field of criminology

  1. Online multiple-choice/ short answer exam. Students will be required to complete a short multiple-choice exam consisting of 20 questions covering the first 4 weeks of course content. This assessment will require students to identify key terms and meanings relating to key concepts presented in the unit
  2. Research Essay. This assessment requires students to critically evaluate one contemporary approach to policing and its impact on outcomes for crime and the community. The research essay will allow students to engage in the policing literature more broadly and demonstrate an understanding of policing strategies and evidence.
  3. Report. The third assessment task is a report. It involves students explaining the ways in which the juvenile justice system as a whole works in ways that aim to reintegrate offenders and reduce recidivism. When doing this, students would include consideration of the different and emerging philosophies operating within the system. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Multiple-choice/short answer exam: Twenty question exam (15 multiple choice, 5 short answer). This assessment assists students in developing their ability to Identify and describe key institutions and policies of the juvenile justice system



GA2, GA5, GA9

Research Essay: Students will be required to write a 1500-word essay demonstrating their understanding of institutions within the Australian juvenile justice system.


LO1, LO2

GA2, GA9

Report: Explain policies and practices that aim to reintegrate juvenile offenders and reduce recidivism.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA1, GA2

Representative texts and references

Cunneen C, White R and Richards K, Juvenile Justice: Youth and Crime in Australia, Fifth Edition, OUP: 2015.

Whitehead J & Lab S, Juvenile Justice: An Introduction, 9th edition, 2018.

Muncie J, Youth and Crime, 5th edition, 2021.

Carrington K & Pereira M, Offending Youth, 2009.

Pitts J, The New Politics of Youth Crime, 2001.

Sanders B, Youth Crime and Youth Culture in the Inner City, 2005.

Rosenfeld R et al, eds., Economics and Youth Violence: Crime, Disadvantage, and Community, 2013.

Hoge R, The Juvenile Offender: Theory, Research and Applications, 2012.

Roush D, Recalibrating Juvenile Detention: Lessons Learned from the Court-Ordered Reform of the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center, 2021. 

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