There is a story on the front page today that highlights one of the current practices in criminal jurisprudence - the trying of children, in this case a 13yo, as adults for crimes such as murder.
Some of my points from up front:
From a commenter saying she acted like adult when she crossed that line and murdered -The response to my comment:Sure she acted like an adult. But can a child of 13 be held to the standards of accountability of an adult? If so, they should be able to sign contracts, get married, drive cars and own guns Ė hell, they know right from wrong. Right? Donít know how I feel about charging children as adults, but I do know that it isnít as cut and dried as some try to make it.
My response to their response:I think there are definitely two different standards held between driving and killing someone. Nobody has a right to take someoneís life. A 5-year old could tell you its wrong.
It was at that point I thought it would be good to carry on here.Of course, you are correct. They know itís wrong. But do they have the maturity to control their actions? Do they have a real grasp of the consequences attributed to those actions? I knew that the driving thing would be brought up, as the argument by absurdity is often over the heads of some, but it helps bring into focus the root issue Ė where and how do you draw the line. And with the vast differences in childhood development, how can you establish a benchmark that is equal to all, as any criminal process should be? That is why the age of adulthood is defined. Is it correct to adjust that down for offenders because there is a public perception of rampant adolescent crime?
I would also add to my last point the public outrage for a particularly heinous act as a motivator to lower the age of responsibility.
Are our standards in this area of expectations for our children in line with those we impose on them in other areas?
Should they be?
I find the topic fascinating, and know the quality of posting in this forum will help me resolve my own feelings and beliefs on the issue. If you check out the FP story for the details in this case, please join the discussion up there as well.