The number of children convicted in court is the lowest in 20 years, statistics released by the Ministry of Justice today show.
The Child and Youth Prosecution Statistics published today reveal the rate of children and young people appearing in youth court last year was 3018.
Of those, just 174 were convicted. Children and young people now make up less than 3% of the total people charged in court in New Zealand.
"Fewer children and young people coming before our courts is an encouraging sign," said Justice Minister Judith Collins.
"We know that a key to reducing crime is to stop young people entering the court and justice system in the first place."
The Conviction and Sentencing Statistics for adults , also published on the Statistics New Zealand website, show 98,783 people appeared in court in 2012, down 7% from 2011 and 22% from 2009.
The number of people charged with a violent offence has dropped by 17% over the last four years, after steadily increasing between 2004 and 2009.
For every 10,000 people in New Zealand, 22 were sentenced to prison in 2012 compared with 25 in 2011.
The most common sentence imposed was a fine or reparation.
In 2012, the two main categories of offences were traffic and vehicle regulatory offences, and offences against justice procedures, government security and government operations.