The Role of the Concept of Responsibility in Juvenile Delinquency Proceedings

The exclusive focus of this article is upon proceedings in which delinquency is· determined, even though the juvenile court generally possesses a broad jurisdiction which covers a variety of matters other than delinquency. There is, however, a fundamental difference between delinquency proceedings and those involving dependency, neglect, or some other domestic problems. These latter proceedings attempt to resolve matters usually concerned with the whole fabric of a family situation and the problems involved therein. A delinquency proceeding, by contrast, has as its primary jurisdictional base the actions of the child. It is quite possible that a child who is engaging in antisocial conduct is doing · so because of problems at home. In this sense, the inquiries of all these proceedings may be directed toward solving similar problems, but this is not necessarily the case. Quite often children are found to be delinquent in instances in which there would be no occasion for intervention by a juvenile court under its dependency or neglect jurisdiction. In such instances the child has done an act which amounts merely to a crime.