Sociology Index

STATUS OFFENCE

Status offence is a delinquency or crime that can only be committed by people occupying a particular status. The Juvenile Delinquents Act created criminal status offence of school truancy, incorrigibility, sexual immorality and violations of liquor laws. Only young people could be charged with or found to commit status offence because of these behaviors. It was found that approximately 20% of young girls coming to youth court did so because of their sexual behavior while few boys were brought to court on these grounds. Status offenses include consumption of alcohol, truancy, and running away from home.

In the USA, the term status offense also refers to an offense such as a traffic violation. In the United Kingdom and Europe, such status offense may be termed a regulatory offense. A status offense is a noncriminal act though considered as a violation only because of a youth's status as a minor. Typical status offenses include truancy, violation of curfew, underage use of alcohol and running away from home. Status offences such as smoking among children is considered as communicating with the adult world or negotiation of status within children's culture.

Smoking and symbolism: children, communication and cigarettes 
Northern Ireland Centre for Diet and Health, School of Biomedical Sciences
This paper about status offence. It argues that it is necessary to focus on the social relations of children if we are to understand and prevent childhood smoking. Addressing the complex issue of childhood agency, it is argued that regardless of various restrictions to their choices, children can act (status offence) intentionally in constructing their identities. It is suggested that the metaphor 'rite of passage' and terminology such as peer 'pressure' versus adult 'influence', commonly used to analyse the children's smoking behavior, may actually conceal important aspects of childhood agency.

CRIN'S Global Report on Status Offences. This Child Rights International Network publication gives an overview of status offences, including curfew violations, disobedience and begging.