Source: (2000) Child and Youth Care Forum. 29(6): 343-352.

This essay discusses the French legal system and its treatment of young offenders. Within this system, special judges are assigned to deal with both at-risk children and young offenders in the same venue. In this system, the actions of juvenile court judgesare guided by a law which requires them to privilege an educational approach over a punitive one even when working with young offenders.Thus, social workers and French juvenile court judges work together in a way akin to restorative justice. This article analyzes what happens when the standard of the best intersts of the child is applied not only in child protection, but also in matters of juvenile deliquency.