CHILDCRIM is a five-year research project at the Faculty of Law, University of Bergen. CHILDCRIM will study assessments about children's criminal insanity and violence risk.

Main content

Assessments about children's criminal insanity and violence risk: Exploring and advancing the recognition of children's development.

Children and young people in today’s society face complex challenges related to crime. The rapid development during adolescence increases the risk of antisocial behavior. For some children, mental disorders exacerbate risk of both perpetrating and being victims of crime. As a reaction, criminal justice policy and legal systems are changing all over the world, with an increasing emphasis on risk when children’s criminal acts are perceived as threats to public safety.

At the same time, children’s rights and in particular the principle of the best interest of the child, affect and limit the use of punishment of children. A premise in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is that children are developing and must be treated differently from adults. However, this child’s premise is in tension with the increasing pressure on risk-based penal reactions. How should concern for social safety be integrated with protection of children’s rights?

Legal and forensic assessments

The legal doctrine of criminal insanity limits accountability for mentally disordered offenders. At the same time, mental disorders will be included in risk assessments, which may justify preventive reactions to prevent future (re) offending. The problem is that the child premise is to date not sufficiently integrated in insanity and risk assessments of children over the minimum age of criminal responsibility. As a result, children with serious mental disorders and functional disabilities are sentenced to indefinite preventive detention.

CHILDCRIM will study the child premise in legal and forensic assessments of mentally disordered children who have committed serious crime. The study is based on a unique data material of all Norwegian judgments and forensic reports about children from 2013-2024. By integrating research on child development, mental disorders and risk factors in children, CHILDCRIM will advance knowledge in this field and identify the need for changed legal practices.

Data management in CHILDCRIM

Read more about data management and processing of personal data in the project (in Norwegian)