China’s Civil War (1945-1949) is well known for the mythologized accounts of self-sacrificing adults that contributed to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) victory. Less understood are the throngs of misbehaving children that defied state prescriptions to conform to socialist ideals. With a focus on delinquent children in the CCP’s rural Shanxi-Chahar-Hebei border region, this paper makes three arguments. First, deviant children’s presence in newspapers, cadre-authored work reports, and pedagogical materials helps constitute a spectrum of young voices ubiquitous throughout the archive. Second, age, like gender, defined the parameters within which society’s youngest members negotiated their independence. Perceived as inherently weak, effeminate, and susceptible to influence, children were less likely to be forever stigmatized for “historical crimes,” such as belonging to a family of bad class background. Children therefore served an important function in Border Region discourse. By passing through a trial of public criticism and re-education, delinquent youngsters—despite their egregious failings—demonstrated the transformative and redemptive power of state-sponsored schooling. Additionally, by reforming and reintegrating troubled minors, the state portrayed itself as a sympathetic and paternalistic authority that was willing to aid citizens in overcoming minor transgressions. Lastly, I argue that delinquency was the constitutive counterweight to exemplary behavior. As such, deviancy and propriety together constructed a didactic dichotomy that delineated the boundaries of China’s burgeoning socialist society. I conclude that miscreant children were therefore indispensable to the Communists’ moral vision that emerged in the war’s waning years.