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Child criminal responsibility.

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anotheoldgit | 11:01 Mon 13th Sep 2010 | News
6 Answers

Should the age of child criminal responsibility be reduced by 2 years, rather than increased by 2 years?


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I think 8 is too young. 10 to 12 seems about right. I am the mother of a 9 year old and maybe he is a little bit naive but I'm not sure he would understand the implications properly of criminal behaviour. He knows stealing and violence is bad etc but I'm not sure you can hold someone wholly responsible if they don't really understand the reasons behind why they shouldn't do something.
We have one of the youngest ages of criminal responsibility in the developed World.

It might be better to have an age range of say 8 to 12 whereby a standard psychological assessment of the child's history and past behavior would be used to assess whether or not they could be held criminally responsible.

Age is a pretty blunt tool
I agree jtp - I have a 10 year old and a 9 year old who definitely know right from wrong and are really well behaved. I cannot rule out that they could do something impulsive that would have severe circumstances that they would not necessary foresee. They are not yet able to see sufficiently that sometimes your actions have greater consequences.

However, I also know of some kids younger than them who cause real problems with violence and vandalism that they must know is wrong.

It's not a one size fits all situation. There is no button in their heads that magically switches on at a given age.
an 'age of criminal responsibility' is a clumsy tool that takes little account of peoples mental development or their circumstances. It should be replaced with something more appropriate and more thought through.
It's impossible to use a child's age as a yardstick. Cases should be assessed individually.
Totally agree with jomifl and naomi - the idea of a set age for all is unscientific, and pretty meaningless.

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