Troubled Children and Children in Trouble: Redefining the Role of the Juvenile Court in the Lives of Children


  • I would like to thank Judge Charles Pratt of the Allen County Superior Court in Fort Wayne, Indiana for providing the inspiration for the title of this Essay.

  • Editor's note: This article was previously published in the Fall 2007 issue of the University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform, Volume 41, Issue 1. Reprinted with permission.


This Essay considers the emerging research in the area of dual-jurisdiction children, often referred to as “crossover kids”—those currently or previously involved in maltreatment proceedings who have also committed delinquent acts. Part I describes the development of the juvenile courts in the early twentieth century. Part II of this Essay questions the need to “track” children along one legal path or another and points to the pitfalls of providing services to some children through a criminal justice paradigm instead of treating all children through a social work paradigm. Finally, Part III advocates a redesign of the juvenile court—a return to its roots—to better enable a court to consider the needs of the whole child, in context with the needs of her/his family.