Lately I have been challenged on my belief with respect to children being charged in the justice system as adults. I am against it. I find it wrong on every level.
We have decided that if a child acts in a wrongful manner, they are acting with the mental capacity of a mature adult. And yet, if a child acts in a mature, compassionate and logical manner, they are still – a child.
We have decided that if a child acts in a wrongful manner, they are acting with the mental capacity of a mature adult. And yet, if a child acts in a mature, compassionate, and logical manner, they are still – a child.
What is wrong with this thinking?
A child of fifteen did some horrendous things, someone was hurt, property was damaged, and because this teen-age child acted in a manner befitting an adult, as in with malice, hate, and destruction, that child must be convicted as an adult – no matter the circumstance, the variables, that led this ‘child’ to be so criminal.
Lines have to be drawn to be sure. But who makes the lines? Each one is unique? Each one is predicated on circumstances. And yet, we have somehow usurped the norms of justice, and replaced them with boxes.
If you did this, then no matter who or what you are – you will be so convicted – even if it means taking a child – and suddenly stating they are an adult.
Does that mean that what defines an adult is all their sin and perversity?
Therefore, anyone who commits an evil act, is an adult, and will be punished as such.
But what if, the child was abused? Abandoned? Assaulted? Bullied? Sexually Abused? The possible reality list is endless in today’s day and age, and yet, our justice system fails to acknowledge that endlessness. Instead, the abused, assaulted, and abandoned child is expected to live according to rules of adulthood.
A fifteen year old in jail. Will that rehabilitate her? Will it change her? Will it make her believe in the system? Will it make her side with the authorities – or the victims? Recidivism in our penal system still hovers near the 70% mark.
How will she change?
To acknowledge aspects of the dialogue, I agree there are circumstances beyond our control, genetic shifts, an exposure to a toxin, etc… but given the waywardness of our youth today, I doubt their issues are derived from toxins and more likely false dialogue that sways their thinking.
And yet I can watch as a young girl is subjected to such a devious place – jail, and so many would support, “She deserves it…”
Consider if the IRS, the Military, the Government, Liquor Stores, School, Airlines, Insurance Companies, all followed the same criteria and allowed a fifteen year old to partake within their industries because they felt she/he was acting in an adult fashion and therefore deserving of their wares?
I believe that if you have a rule, and the rule says you are not an adult until the age of 18 – or 21 – then that’s what it is. Period.
I believe that every child – teen-ager – deserves a chance over and over – until they become an adult, and as an adult either get it right – or wrong. In the meantime, we as ‘adults’ have a duty to act – like – adults and tend to the needs of children, teaching them values of respect, honor, compassion, and virtue. When w we look fat the rants and attitudes we see across the media as they portray the youth today, you have to consider ‘who they are modeling’…