This article addresses the paradox that whilst young offenders in general are increasingly diverted from formal justice, there continues to be resistance to the idea of diversion for those young people who commit sexual offences. It explores the ways in which tensions arising from this paradox are currently being played out within criminal justice systems in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. Building on published and new research on criminal justice responses to young sexual offenders, the article highlights the problems of responding within any one justice framework to the – at times – competing concerns about risk, welfare, and control that these young offenders provoke. Drawing on criminological, psychological, and sociological work, the article argues that these concerns are accentuated in relation to young sexual offenders because of interrelated fears about the progressive nature of sexual offending; the ability of ‘newer’ justice practices to meet the need for ‘affective’ and ‘effective’ justice in relation to sexual crimes; and because of wider societal anxieties about sexual crimes, particularly where the victims and the offenders are children or young people.
- sexual violence
- young people