No. XXIX-XXX (2008)

Social Profiles of Juveniles Who Become Adult Perpetrators

Irena Rzeplińska
Institute of Law Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Department of Criminology

Published 2008-04-01


  • juveniles,
  • juvenile delinquency,
  • perpetrator,
  • punishable act

How to Cite

Rzeplińska, I. (2008). Social Profiles of Juveniles Who Become Adult Perpetrators. Archives of Criminology, (XXIX-XXX), 409–415.


The author looks at the social situation of juveniles held accountable for crimes before a family court who have committed a criminal act as adults. Rzeplińska tries to investigate the social and family conditions of the juveniles examined – adult offenders – which could have also been the risk factors pushing them to start a life of crime. The goal of the article is to investigate the knowledge of the institutions (primarily the juvenile courts) that they had at the time of adjudicating their acts. The text focusses mainly on a comparative analysis of the social profiles of juveniles. The author compares the situation of juvenile offenders who were sentenced as adults with the situation of juvenile offenders who later, as adults, were not registered in the National Criminal Register. The starting point is the conclusions from the file research conducted by the author, among which the following have been examined: opinions on the family of juvenile delinquents, opinions on the juvenile – especially on his/her school situation – possible behavioural problems, and his/her being recorded by the police. An additional set of data contains information on measures applied to the minor by institutions, including the opinions of the Family Diagnostic and Consultation Centre. The author notes, however, that opinions on the instruments of influence on minors appeared sporadically. The text shows that minors were rarely referred to the Family Diagnostic and Consulting Centre. The source of the empirical material presented in the article was a nationwide survey conducted in 2005, which covered case files on a group of 771 minors (79 girls and 692 boys) aged 13–16 whose cases were registered in 2000 in juvenile courts. Juveniles who committed criminal acts as adults, and consequently ‘continued’ their criminal career and ended up in the National Criminal Register,comprised 16.5% of the women and 46.2% of the men. The author of the text remarks on the missing information in the juveniles’files – such as community interview orthe opinions of the probation officer and other institutions which dealt with the juveniles and whose information could have significantly improved the creation of their profiles and helped us understand their family and social situation. Rzeplińska doubts the effectiveness of juvenile court decisions in which Article 21 §2 of the Act on proceedings against minors was applied, namely the non-initiation or termination of proceedings due to, for example, measures imposed on a minor in an earlier case. The jurisprudence showed that despite the fact that juveniles had already complied with the measures imposed on them, it did not prevent them from committing another crime. The conclusions presented mainly concern the need to change the reaction of courts by extending the range of methods of educating minors. One of the suggestions is to comprehensively influence juvenilesby applying measures that encompass their family and friends, such as probation.


  1. Kemshall H., Risks, rights and justice. Understanding and responding to youth risk, „Youth Justice. An International Journal” 2008, t. 8, nr 1.
  2. Rzeplińska I., Obraz przestępczości nieletnich w Polsce w badaniach kryminologicznych – przed i po transformacji, „Archiwum Kryminologii” 2005-2006, t. XXVIII, s. 331-343,
  3. Rzeplińska I., Współcześni nieletni sprawcy czynów karalnych – późniejsi dorośli przestępcy [w:] M. Andrzejewski et al. (red.), Księga Jubileuszowa Profesora Tadeusza Smyczyńskiego, Towarzystwo Naukowe Organizacji i Kierownictwa „Dom Organizatora”, Toruń 2008.