Age of Juvenile Offending

What do you think the minimum age of responsibility should be in terms of juvenile offending and which criminal rules would you change? Steven MacLean Class of 1992 Senior Constable Western Australian Police.

Understanding the question..

Children around western Australia are being charged with unreasonable consequences for offences that are minor, and influenced by underlying factors such as friends, family, household. Which disables opportunities when they become educated as they are older and understand more values and that they are to be held accountable for their actions

Why is this a problem?

This is a problem because it affects communities everywhere. So many children grow up in an abusive household, where children are neglected, exposed to hard drugs, experience trauma meaning  they are not properly educated on what is right and wrong, and what the consequences for the wrong actions will be. This can affect the later life of the children. When they try to make money as they older, they will be rejected from multiple jobs as a result of their criminal record, which puts them at a huge disadvantage in terms of income and opportunities, while also encouraging more crimes in order for the person to bring in money and get by, all because of a crime they were charged with which they were pressured/forced into.

To convict a child aged between 10 and 14 at trial, the prosecution must rebut the presumption that the child was not able to distinguish right from wrong and should therefore be deemed incapable of committing a criminal act. 

the guardian

evidence of this being a problem

An 11 year old boy, raised in a household of neglect, had became involved with a violent group. Around 3 am during 2016 firework celebrations, the boy was egged on by older members of the group, oldest being19 years old, too attack a man, and kill him. He was charged with manslaughter, receiving 2 years detention and once released, to be under supervised parole. When this boy was released, his lack of a stable household and schooling, lead him to go off on a crime spree, breaking into houses and cars. This boy did not receive any help with his situation during and more importantly after his sentence. This stopped him from learning and growing from his mistakes, as he was not educated in how crimes will affect his life in the future, and his living situation was not attended to, exposing him back into the same circumstances he was in when he committed the murder. If we gave this boy the resources he needed to, to learn and support him, the. Chances of hi continuing his life of crime would have been reduced greatly. This happens so often (maybe not with the same level of severity of crime) that it is so obvious how much of a problem it is.

the 11 year old boy charged

It left many in the community questioning: how could such a young boy be implicated in such a heinous crime?

Why was a boy of primary school age roaming the city streets with a violent mob in the early hours of the morning?

Where were his parents and why wasn’t he at home safe with his family, like the thousands of other children who hours earlier had enjoyed the Australia Day fireworks?

The unfortunate reality is that this child, as is the case with countless others, never stood a chance of having what most people in modern day Australia might consider a “normal” life. – taken from an ABC net article on the situation

Our individual solutions / Opinions  on the subject 

Remy – The age that juvenile offenders should be held responsible for the crimes they are committing and being charged with as of right now are very unfair to disadvantaged and young children, so, the punishment severity should be depending on the type of crime committed, and court should look futher into environmental causes, to understand why the crime was comitted, and instead of just locking the child up, providing them resources to educate them and help their living situation. I think the age should be 16

Luke – we need to solve this problem because Kids brain are still developing at the age of 10 which means that they are unclear and unaware of the situation which they are getting themselves involved in. An incident at the age of 10 should not be put on a criminal record or be required a sentence time. 

Ella – Young kids have not yet developed their full brain yet and at the age of ten the children are still learning about life. From the gap 10 to 14 the kids are developing and are becoming wiser and at the age of 14 they have developed their full understanding of what is right and what is wrong. Ways which we can try and help children to understand include giving kids lectures and talks from the police and primary school and help them get an understanding that doing crime is bad.

Jaime – I believe it’s unfair that the juvenile offenders age is 10. At the age of 10 kids aren’t are not fully aware of the consequences and what’s wrong and right, however at the age of 14 they have developed a general sense of the consequences and are given the chance to learn from mistakes. There are hard limitations to solve this issue but providing awareness more to society and educating young children can make a difference.

Focus points and background info, helpful for creating a solution 

The current age for a juvenile responsibility in Western Australia is 10 years old, so, from 10 until 14, children can be held criminally responsible in criminal proceedings if there is proof the child understood the wrongfulness of their behaviour. Crimes which 10-year-old mostly commit include, Graffiti, Vandalism and shoplifting. Crimes such a drug offence normally start from the age 13-14 onwards.

If we don’t find a solution

if we don’t find a solution to this ordeal, many troubled youths will continue to suffer and be left behind by the WA court system, and continue to commit these crimes and lead poor lives because they were left to slip through the cracks and not be supported and educated on how their decisions affect their lives, and people surrounding them’s lives. We really need to solve this problem to move forward as a country and restore equality between age, class, gender etc