Effectiveness of the Legal System for Juvenile Offenders

Issue: Teenage pregnancy

Teenage pregnancy is a contemporary social issue, especially in Australia, who “is ranked by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development as having one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the developed world.” The perceived issue with teenage pregnancies is that teenagers are not emotionally and financially ready to raise children. The legal system has responded to this issue with the introduction of new legislation, and the introduction of community organisations.

Australia has a national and international duty to protect the rights of young people. Parents not fulfilling these responsibilities during their child’s upbringing are a major factor for teenage pregnancies. As a result, the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child (also known as CROC) was ratified in Australia in 1990 to ensure that the policies and laws passed by State and Federal Governments are in the best interests of the child. For example, Article 18 of the CROC states “State Parties shall use their best efforts to ensure… that both parents have common responsibilities for the upbringing and development of the child.” This article has led to the introduction of further State legislation, including: the Children (Protection and Parental Responsibility) Act 1997 and the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998. The introduction of this legislation has acknowledged the safety of children and young people as paramount and the primary responsibility of children’s and young people’s upbringing lies with their parents or legal guardians. Following the introduction of such legislation, the number of teenage pregnancies has declined.

The Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 (NSW) was introduced by the State Parliament to legally protect children and young people, such as pregnant teenagers. This act mandates the Department of Community Services with the responsibility of protecting children and young...