Introduction: Advancing Empirical Research on China’s Juvenile Delinquency and Juvenile Justice: Continuity and Expansion

Published date01 May 2018
Date01 May 2018
Subject MatterEditorial
Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice
2018, Vol. 34(2) 120 –127
© The Author(s) 2018
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DOI: 10.1177/1043986218769793
Introduction: Advancing
Empirical Research on
China’s Juvenile Delinquency
and Juvenile Justice:
Continuity and Expansion
Educating the young is a permanent mandate for any civilization. Chinese society has
accumulated both high expectations and high anxieties in developing its youth
throughout the millennia. This has been a lasting theme manifested in Confucian
thoughts on cultivating correct behaviors from a young age (Cao & Cullen, 2001) as
well as in legal codes governing youth misbehavior in Chinese dynasties (Zhao, 2014).
In the modern era under both the Republic of China and the People’s Republic of
China, the basic concepts and practices of a Chinese juvenile justice system continued
to evolve with mixed Western and traditional Chinese influences. The result is a fluid
field of juvenile justice practices that will continue to challenge researchers and policy
makers in the foreseeable future. This introductory essay begins with a scan of the
existing research literature on the subject, followed by a succinct summary of each
study included in this special issue. We hope this special issue would demonstrate both
the necessity of and a vision for advancing empirical research on China’s juvenile
delinquency and justice responses.
Where Are We on Chinese Juvenile Justice Practices and
For much of the time prior to the 1980s, Chinese youthful offenders were handled
either by grassroots organizations such as neighborhood committees or by the police
using administrative rules with no judicial oversight (L. Zhang, 2008). The establish-
ment of Changning juvenile court in Shanghai in 1984 marked a symbolic first step
toward building a legalistic juvenile justice system nationwide in mainland China.
Since then, China has made great strides in the treatment of juvenile offenders under
the fundamental principle of “giving priority to education and supplementing it with
punishment.” The more recent legislative initiatives included abolishment of capital
punishment for juveniles, conditional nonprosecution, due process rights for juvenile
suspects, and sealing of juvenile criminal records (for more details, see Zhang & He in
this special issue).
Scholarship on Chinese juvenile delinquency and juvenile justice has also prolifer-
ated in recent years. A literature search using the key words “juvenile delinquency” or
“juvenile justice” from 1984 to the present in the China National Knowledge
769793CCJXXX10.1177/1043986218769793Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice

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