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In November 1998, the interdisciplinary Center for Children, families and the Law at the University of Virginia sponsored a conference on Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice Reform. The conference brought together an extraordinary group of experts from the academic disciplines of law, criminology and psychology. Before an audience made up of researchers, students, policymakers, and practitioners in the field of juvenile justice, these experts analyzed legal policy toward juvenile crime from a variety of disciplinary and methodological perspectives. The articles in this important symposium issue of the Virginia Journal of Social Policy & the Law are based on the papers and comments that were presented at the conference.

Thoughtful academic voices can contribute a great deal to a policy debate that has been the focus of intense media and legislative interest around the country in the 1990s. Indeed, it is fair to say that no other set of legal policy issues involving children is subject to greater debate and controversy than that of how to respond to youth crime – particularly violent youth crime. Often the discussion is shrill and not very informed, as first the media and then politicians respond to tragic cases of children killing children. The empirical and normative issues are complex, and satisfactory long-term solutions are not obvious. It makes sense for researchers and scholars who study juvenile crime to play a more prominent role in formulating juvenile justice policy.


Family Law | Juvenile Law | Law