AGE OF CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY
I write of my concern regarding the age of criminal responsibility which is currently 10 years of age.
Children of this age cannot be held responsible for their actions and decisions. Dr Fiona Stanley, School of Paediatrics and Child Health at the University of Western Australia, stated that their ability to know right from wrong varies, and development is influenced by the environment the child occupies.
Many studies have demonstrated that the human brain continues to develop into adulthood. The parts of the brain which control emotions, decision making and impulse control, are not fully developed until later than 10 years of age.
Frequent and intense periods of stress weaken the development of the brain. Stress might include physical or emotional abuse, chronic neglect, caregiver substance abuse or mental illness, and exposure to violence. The development of neural connections is impaired
and, therefore, children living under these conditions have developmental delays.
I recently attended a seminar presented by Penny Wright, Guardian for Children and Young People in Care, and her findings, from visiting the Youth Training Centre were presented to Parliament recently. Some of the facts she presented were:
- 90 per cent have health issues, such as fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and autism spectrum disorder.
- 10 per cent were aged 10-13 years (2019–2020). In the last financial year, 21 per cent were aged 10-14.
- 50 per cent identified as Aboriginal.
Some of these children were on remand, and had not been charged with an offence, and many had been incarcerated for short periods of time, and not separated from the older, more experienced children, who could influence them negatively. Some were detained up to four times in a year, were detained many times before they even reached high school.
The juvenile law in Australia states the standard age for criminal responsibility in all Australian jurisdictions is 10 years of age. For children between the ages of 10 and 14 years there is a refutable presumption that they are incapable of forming the criminal intent necessary to be guilty of a crime (doli incapax).
But the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child says the age should be 12.
In a UN report in 2007 it advised that ‘a minimum age of criminal responsibility below the age of 12 years is considered by the committee not to be internationally acceptable’.
Many countries throughout Europe accept the age of criminal responsibility to be 14, and some as high as 16.
South Australia has been a forerunner in social justice in the past, such as the enfranchisement of women’s right to vote, and the decriminalisation of homosexuality. How wonderful to continue our proud history and be the first state in Australia to demonstrate our care and concern for young people by increasing the age of criminal responsibility to 14.
Please contact the Hon Vickie Chapman, Attorney General, if you share my concerns.
Murray Bridge parish
Please accept this letter to the editor as confusion and disappointment.
Each month The Southern Cross makes its way onto our kitchen table and is read, at some level, by the family and visitors.
Only weeks ago, a heartfelt announcement was made from our local parish pulpit, expressing sincere concern and emotion and calling to action those who oppose abortion. We were faced with a government considering a bill to legalise full term abortion, a bill that has now been passed one way or another. The ‘culture of death’ is alive and well in our world and in our communities. It can be hard to know what to do when political agendas impact in such a pervasive way and deliver such moral corruption.
The specific bill was supported by Attorney General Vickie Chapman, pictured in The Southern Cross (May 2021) alongside Catholic representatives, including Archbishop O’Regan, and quoted as saying ‘…I will be walking in the footsteps of this extraordinary Australian and now saint’.
These scenarios are incongruent. A saint’s footsteps will not lead down a road that condones the murder of an unborn child.
The Catholic view on abortion is at odds with the views of Ms Chapman and yet she shares a coloured spread and quotes in our Catholic newspaper. How? Where will our hypocrisy and faintheartedness take us next?
I love my Catholic faith and am not swayed by the anti-God, anti-life agenda, in the many disguises it comes, that is absolutely rampant in our world. The problem is that many people are. What message does this send?
People like this do not represent the True Church and shouldn’t be given air time or space on the pages of this sort of publication. It certainly undermines a level of credibility of this source.
Email address provided
I was disturbed to see the word ‘compassion’ being used by supporters of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2020 outside Parliament House, suggesting that those who oppose euthanasia are not compassionate.
The word ‘compassion’ literally means ‘to suffer alongside’. It is the pledge to genuinely invest yourself in people who are suffering; to offer the best assistance you can to relieve their physical and emotional suffering and to help them maintain hope and self-esteem. Genuine compassion impels us to do all that we can to eliminate suffering, but never eliminate the sufferer. The aim is to help the person live as well as possible; not to die as soon as possible!
I personally find it bizarre that with the huge emphasis on COVID protocols and procedures being implemented by our civil authorities to preserve human life, that the same civil authorities through abortion and euthanasia are seeking to create and enshrine laws, protocols and procedures to destroy human life.
Our local MPs have a duty to weigh the long term social and institutional ramifications of this law and I strongly urge them to vote against this Bill.
Fr Michael Romeo, Penola
Jump to next article