The focus is no longer on punishment. A search for committed effective criminal justice practice is often hindered by an unwarranted certainty about what works regarding reformation of youth criminals. The best way to view the entire juvenile justice system is as a work in progress rather than something that is written on rock. Nothing is certain at this point on what works or not and it is very necessary to keep an open mind on new theories and one of these is a child rights-based framework (Cotter, 2006: 108)
The Children Act of 1908 established juvenile courts to try young offenders. It tried to stamp out infanticide by the introduction of foster parenthood in the country. This led to the establishment of orphanages for unwanted children and to keep them out of the workplace in which they could be mistreated by the new capitalist system. A law called Children and Young Persons Act of 1933 was more encompassing as it prohibited sale of liquor and cigarettes to persons under 16 years of age, letting them in the prostitution business, use them for begging in the streets or inflicting cruelty to them. Before this law, criminals below 18 years of age can be executed for serious crimes but it raised the criminal responsibility of a child from only 7 to 8 years of age. The Children Act of 1948 established childrens committees and authorities are mandated to receive vulnerable kids into their care (Batty, 2005: 1).
November 20, 1959 saw the adoption of the UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child and made this a universal celebration each year on this date. It expanded the original version from only 5 principles to a present 10. This was followed by the Children and Young Persons Act of 1969 that introduced more compulsory measures for the State to intervene in behalf of a child and to take over parental rights if necessary. It introduced a revolutionary concept of care and control through the use of care orders for criminal kids.