This article is a comparison of the Taiwanese and English youth justice systems. The Taiwanese system is characterised by the integration of the police and informal social control, with a strong emphasis on voluntary and community involvement and paternalistic discipline; the English system in contrast is on the basis of more centralised control and low local community involvement when dealing with young people. Both approaches however are concerned with ‘ risk ’ – those young people posing a risk of offending and those ‘ at risk ’ from other young offenders. Our article reviews the different youth justice systems and places them into their social, political and cultural contexts. We then discuss the different approaches used in dealing with offenders and ‘ young people at risk ’ of offending and the sanctions available to the respective youth justice systems. Finally, while accepting cultural differences, we conclude that the Taiwanese approach has the welfare of the young person / child as its focus but in a paternalistic way in contrast to England where surveillance, control and formal prevention are regarded as of paramount importance.