Just the way I feel, probably has to do with my own personal biases growing up. I feel like at 16 you should have all the legal rights of an adult. Are you as mature as someone who is 25 or 35 or 45? No. But neither is an 18 year old. I just have always felt 18 is an arbitrarily late age to define majority. Biologically speaking, there is very little reason to wait that long. I think 16 would work better. That way, if a 16 year old guns down a bunch of people, you throw the book at him just like you would an adult, and you don’t have any of this messy “try him as an adult” crap that I think is very hypocritical.
And I just don’t think society would fall apart at all if 16 year old were allowed to vote, drink, smoke, have sex, move out on their own, enter legal contracts, etc. I think many 16 year old adults would choose to continue living with their parents while they finish school, and that would be great. I think it would benefit society in many ways. For one, we could get away with stupid things like the “trying juveniles as adults” and the “romeo and juliet” laws as well. For the few kids whose parents might kick them out at 16, that’s sad. But parents willing to do that are going to do it at 18 anyway, and if a 16 year old has all the legal rights, then it’s basically no different.
Of course, I’m not a parent myself yet so who knows how I will feel about all this in a decade or two.
There should be some sort of rite of passage to become legally an adult, similar to licensing for other things, that is irrespective of actual age. You go through training, take a test, and then get granted both the rights and the responsibilities of a legal adult. This doesn’t have to be all inclusive - it could be separated into different aspects, like the legal system (includes voting), finances (includes finances, credit, banking, debt, maybe working, contracts), intoxicating substances, sexual activity, etc. But if you make the choice to become a legal adult (in that aspect) early you get tried as an adult, but if you put it off even til later, you get tried as a pre adult.
That works for me. Some of the crimes done by 14 to 18 year olds, they are truly awful (like the ones I previously mentioned in this thread) - the anonymity given to Young Offenders along with the extremely light sentences are not proportional to the damage someone who is technically not an adult can do to their victims.
I don’t think you can make it simple and set one age. First, I think majority age should be lowered to 16, maybe with certain exceptions, but at least in regard to crimes. However, age up into the 20s should be considered a factor in some crimes, we shouldn’t throw away people who aren’t fully cooked yet. Most of that can be handled in sentencing though, it doesn’t have to have that much affect on the charges. And in other cases people under the age of 16 should be charged as adults also. For anyone, their ablility to comprehend the consequences of their actions, and understand the wrong they commit should be charged as an adult. It becomes difficult to decide in some cases, but the law should treat age as a get out of jail free card either.
I think it should depend on the crime and the individual circumstances. For the most part, I think that anyone under 18 should be charged as an adult for rape (and I’m not talking “playing doctor” or groping or anything like that–I mean actual penetration-type rape). I believe this because this is a crime that you have to be an adult (at least biologically speaking) to commit. I could even be persuaded that it has to be a violent rape (as opposed, for example, to a kid who goes too far with his girlfriend after she says no–which is still a crime for sure, but IMO not as bad as some teenage thug who knocks a woman over the head and drags her into the bushes).
That said, I think society could benefit from a third category of offender–older than a child but younger than an adult–that these kinds of cases could be put into. Something that would allow some leniency going forward if the kid straightens up while serving his time and extra rehabilitative services to help him do so, but also allows things like having him named and potentially sentenced to a long stay in prison if he doesn’t straighten up.
I fully admit that this is all just my opinion and not based on a lot of study. I’m just very tired of a certain class of under-18 thug (violent offenders, rapists, sociopaths) being given a pass because they’re “children.”
The thing is, the change is not a sudden one. It is gradual. It is reasonable to treat someone like an adult on some things but not on others. Kids understand some concepts at an adult enough level to be tried as adults*.
That said, I’m not sure pet abuse is one of them. The punishment for adults for such is not very high. So obviously it’s not considered that heinous a crime. I’m not sure I’d see trying the kid as a child for that one. I remember kids who did this sort of thing to other people’s animals and the court system didn’t get involved. And said kids are fine now as adults.
*There’s even a problem with this logic–there are a lot of people who commit crimes who do not understand things at the same level of most adults. Mortality, for example, is not something everyone thinks about. And there are a whole subset of people who have no empathy. Should they get lesser punishments? Barring the ability to rehabilitate them, I don’t see why.
And that’s all trying as a child does. It lessens the punishment.
I don’t mind asking because I’m pretty sure it’s nonsense, like all the other gang related rumors you hear, eg. don’t flash your headlights at a car because its a gang initiation and they’ll stop and kill you!!!
One of my favorite teachers growing up put forth the idea that one of the unsung but measurable milestones in the advancement of mankind after the industrial revolution was a separate justice system for juveniles.
It indicated an understanding that children have the capacity to learn and the potential to become useful members of society. It also indicated an acceptance that children could not have the same intent and consent that an adult would.
It recognized a loss of all of that capacity and potential when a child is dropped suddenly from the end of a hangman’s rope.
A different teacher put forth the idea that the society of any civilization evolves over time to its zenith, which it stays at just briefly, before it regresses backwards. I’m sure if he were here, he could argue that we’ve already
regressed back through the 50s (fear of actions not in lock-step agreement with a political party; repression of independent thought) , the 40’s (Nationalistic hero worship of the soldier), the 30s (The Great Depression and the rise of a gangland subculture).
I’m sure he’d smile at serious suggestions of equal treatment of criminal law for both adults and children by simply stating, “Welcome to the 19th century!”
Your post is a little hard to parse, but I wanted to point out that NO ONE in this thread has said they don’t think juveniles who commit crimes should be let off without punishment. NO ONE. In fact, most people have taken the time to specifically say that is not what they want to happen.
Juveniles who commit crimes should be incarcerated in juvenile facilities, not tossed in with adult offenders (who either victimize the juvenile, teach them how to be a more successful criminal, or both). The focus should be on rehabilitation. There needs to be adequate educational facilities. Stuff like that. Absolutely no one is saying that if a 13 year old murders a member of your family we will do nothing to punish the killer. It’s a complete strawman.