50The opening chapter explored the socio-historical construction of ‘youth offending’ and its predecessor ‘juvenile delinquency’. You were presented with a chronology tracing the social construction of ‘childhood’, which precipitated the need to socially construct ‘adolescence’ as a way of explaining the new phenomenon of ‘juvenile delinquency’, which ultimately became known as ‘youth offending’. The chapter noted how, since the mid-1700s’ Industrial Revolution, the notion of childhood was distinguished as a separate life stage, with its own very specific characteristics (Hendrick 2015). Before that time, children were thought of as essentially little adults, working and socialising with older adults. The distinction between children and adults, closely followed by the further distinction of adolescents as a category of older children (young people), was based on identified differences in relation to biological, psychological and social development and behaviour. These differences motivated the social construction of new, specialised legislation, provisions and institutional arrangements reserved for children and young people in the criminal justice context. Consequently, a clear understanding emerged over time that children were not to be subjected to the same expectations and treatment as adults (Case et al. 2017). This understanding involved a series of dynamic, contingent and contested assumptions (constructions) about what it means to be a child, what should be expected in terms of children’s development, and at the same time, how children should be expected to come to terms with increasing levels of responsibility and social obligation. This, in turn, clearly flowed through into a set of dynamic, contingent and contested assumptions about children’s behaviour and how this was to be explained and managed (Case et al. 2017). The contentious issues surrounding how to construct and understand ‘children’, ‘adolescents/youths’ and ‘youth offending’ precipitated arguments about the degree to which children should be held responsible for their actions (e.g. through establishing an appropriate age of criminal responsibility) and introduced debates about how youth offending should be responded to through official ‘youth justice’ measures.