Age limits and status offenses

A “status offense” refers to conduct that is unlawful only because the offender is a minor.[x] Common examples of status offenses include truancy, running away from home, violating curfew, underage drinking, and general governability.[xi] Engagement in status offending behaviour is often indicative of underlying personal, familial, community, and systemic issues.[xii]

In countries like Brazil and Egypt[xiii] children engaging in status offending behaviours are constantly victimised by the police and stigmatised by the society from a very young age.

Justice for children can only be fully realised if it takes into consideration the underlying and often serious vulnerability factors of children committing status offending behaviours. Furthermore, children should not be subject to criminal procedures and punishment for offenses to which adults are not punished.



[i] Arthur, Patricia J. and Waugh, Regina (2008) “Status Offenses and the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act: The Seattle Journal for Social Justice: Vol. 7: Iss. 2, Article 10, available at: 
[ii] Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, “Status Offences”, available at: 
[iii]Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, “Status Offences”, available at:  
[iv]Child Rights International Network (CRIN), “Discrimination and Disenfranchisement: A Global Report on Status Offences (Third Edition)”, available at: 


Disclaimer: Authors are the Global Initiative on Justice with Children with pro-bono support from Baker McKenzie. This section represents one among other positions of some members of the World Congress Consortium and does not necessarily represent the view of all institutions and members  involved.