A lack of transmission of values, especially those linked to the notion of authority, is often cited as determining factor in juvenile delinquency. On these grounds, successive governments since 1998 have taken initiatives which tend to favor restraint and punishment in judicial treatment of minors. This position runs up against the representations of juvenile justice professionals dealing with delinquency, who see in this development a radical calling into question of the values which have been transmitted to them. Based on their reading of the edict n° 45-174 of February 2, 1945 on juvenile delinquency, they consider that there has been a profound rupture in the mission of this specialized judicial system, which new orientations have transformed from a protective model into a repressive model obliging them to employ values contrary to the ones in which their professional engagement is rooted.
This article reconsiders this presentation of the question and seeks to highlight what nevertheless constitutes transmission and continuity within this movement. To do this, it begins by rereading the edict and its statement of purpose and examines the issue by questioning the psychological and psychiatric models on which the tenets of the rupture are based in order to demonstrate it. This rereading shows, among other things, that it is the evolution of representations of the edict and not the edict itself which has led to this impasse about the repressive and restraining dimensions contained in it; it also shows how a very limited representation of the therapeutic (essentially that of treatment limited to the model of individual psychotherapy) gave rise to the classic conviction that that juvenile justice system suffers from too much clinical influence, as opposed to the « imperatives of discipline ». Thus it is the disciplinary model of help-restraint which has always been promoted by the edict of 45, contrary to what the classic reading of it might lead one to believe.
Referring to the dynamic of problem adolescents, the authors consider that the disciplinary model which combines help and restraint is the most suited to the disciplinary and therapeutic needs of these young people. Calling into question the rupture that some would place at the forefront, they defend the idea that it is important to base the transmission of the juvenile justice system’s disciplinary values on the transmission of this model which, in these conditions, does not require a calling into question of a cherished clinical tradition, as this is also led to adapt its model and its practices to the psychopathological particularities of adolescents treated in this context.
Adolescence, 2009, T. 27, n°2, pp. 355-374.