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juvenile justice

system of laws, policies, and procedures intended to regulate the processing and treatment of nonadult offenders for violations of law and to provide legal remedies that protect their interests in situations of conflict or neglect. Punishable offenses that are classified as criminal offenses for adults (e.g., murder, robbery, and larceny) are referred to as delinquency when committed by juveniles, whereas juvenile offenses mandating legal intervention only (e.g., alcohol and tobacco use, truancy, and running away from home) are referred to as status offenses. Children are also subject to specialized laws, procedures, and policies designed to protect their interests when parents or other legal guardians are unavailable, negligent, or involved in custodial disputes.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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