Posted: 02.09.07 in Blogging

As a child from a so-called "broken family", I would have been expected to have been an unruly and rebellious child. Perhaps what stopped me was my conscience.

And then you get reports like this article from the BBC, revealing that three thousand crimes were committed by those under ten years of age. Because they are under ten, they are not accountable and will not face criminal charges.

Later in that article, there is a debate over whether the age for which children can be criminally responsible should be changed. On the one hand, Lawrence Lee – one of the defendant lawyers in the James Bulger case – believes it wouldn’t be a good idea, but also says:

… if you go along to any estate and see the age of kids marauding around like a pack of wolves, you’d see that reducing the age of criminal responsibility to eight or nine would be vital.

On the other hand, Bob Reitemeier of the Children’s Society would like the age to rise to 14, citing the age for which a child can have sex and vote as support to his argument.

The flaw is that most children learn, as part of their early development, about consequences to their actions. They are supposed to have developed a conscience, and failing that they should have learned to realise that wrong-doing will be followed by a harsh sanction. That is what stops myself – and most people – from stealing their daily loaf.

I feel that all children – no matter what age they are – should be punished if they knowingly do wrong. I fail to see what harm there is in the police taking a child to the police station. I also fail to see how a nine year old is not criminally responsible for vandalism, theft and wounding, when obviously I would be.

Half the problem is that kids know they can get away with it.


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