Tot maat van het recht. De vroege ontwikkeling van de wetenschap van het ontspoorde en criminele kind in het Centrale Observatiegesticht in Mol (1913-1941)

Margo De Koster, Nelleke Bakker (Editor)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The first Belgian Child Protection Act, which passed in 1912, introduced the instrument of social and medical-psychological inquiry in both the sentencing and the re-education process of delinquent youth. As a result of the new, formal 'space for experts' thus created, a central observation centre for boys was established in the Flemish town of Mol in 1913. In this article the author first puts the development of this work, which reflected a shift in the problematisation and treatment of juvenile delinquency, into the context of a growing scientific interest in the delinquent child. Secondly, drawing on archival sources of the Mol centre such as a selection of case files of boys admitted between 1916 and 1941, she investigates the daily practice of scientific observation and diagnosis, its methods and techniques, and its results. This exploration suggests that practices in the Mol centre reflected, and at the same time have stimulated, an increasing importance of 'scientific' expertise in judicial decision-making, shaping juveniles' future pathways to a considerable extent. Yet the practices seem to have been less successful in keeping up with the scientific promise of a new, more adequate and effective kind of knowledge and treatment of juvenile delinquents.
Original languageDutch
Title of host publicationKinderen in gevaar. De geschiedenis van pedagogische zorg voor risicojeugd
EditorsS. Braster N. Bakker, A. Van Gorp M. Rietveld-van Wingerden
Place of PublicationAssen
PublisherVan Gorcum
Number of pages26
ISBN (Print)978-90-232-4407-3
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Bibliographical note



  • youth
  • crime
  • psycho-medical expertise
  • 20th century

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