Aggressive children perfectly aware of their actions

Blood-chilling stories of crimes committed by minors appear in the media on a regular basis. Meanwhile, scientists continue to discuss the following question:  at what age a person becomes fully responsible for their actions? Should children be responsible for their criminal behavior and how?

Not that long ago, British scientists asked the government to raise the age of criminal responsibility for juveniles. In England, Ireland and Wales, the responsibility starts from the time when a person turns ten years of age. Scientists propose to add two more years to the limit. The motives are as follows: the areas of the children's brain responsible for making certain decisions are underdeveloped. Therefore, children do not realize that they break the law. If so, what is the reason to punish them for?

Some scientists say that those areas of the brain form fully by the time when a person turns 20. Well, with this approach, it is easy to feel sorry for kids. Not so long ago, for example, a couple of reckless girls, second-graders, stripped naked a girl whom they did not like. It was -40 degrees Centigrade outside, and the poor girl had to spend nearly 30 minutes in the cold.

About a year ago, a group of girls - high school students - decided to teach a lesson to their 14-year-old friend, after the latter stole somebody else's girlfriend.  The lesson looked like a Nazi torture. They stripped the girl naked in the cold and gave her an ice-cold shower from a water hose. They let their victim go in the end: the girl suffered from pneumonia and frostbite.

It appears that British scientists would agree to change their mind if their children became involved in any of such stories. Maybe they would answer in the spirit of Russian writer Anatoly Pristavkin, who once served as the head of the Pardon Commission under the President of Russia and advocated the abolition of death penalty. When asked what he would do to a man who would rape his daughter, the writer replied cynically, yet honestly: "I'd grab a gun and kill the bastard. But this is my personal opinion, and I am not changing my civil position with my requirement to abolish death penalty."

This way or other, criminal liability for minors exists. In Britain, as we mentioned above, it starts with 10 years, in many states in the U.S. - with 12. Juvenile American offenders are not executed for serious crimes immediately. Nevertheless, a death sentence can be executed after they reach adulthood.

In Russia, criminal responsibility for serious crimes starts with 14 years of age. However, the real responsibility begins much earlier, at age 11, when a child can be sent to a special closed school for up to three years. The school, in essence, is just like prison: it is not allowed to leave its territory during the period of education.

Until recently, children under 11 years of age were not likely to receive serious punishment in Russia. There was the so-called "parental responsibility," which was akin to the alleged "responsibility" that the owners of fighting dogs had to "carry" for their pets if the latter mauled someone in the street.

Nowadays, if a child beat someone nearly dead - he or she will have to go to a boarding school, to be isolated from other people.  A boarding school is not a prison, and this form of punishment can not be called criminal responsibility, but it will be more than enough for a minor.

Still, what about the "underdeveloped brains" of minors? The author of this article believes that this is complete nonsense. The human brain (or rather - psyche) will remain undeveloped, if no one tries to develop it. The brain development process should be started as soon as possible. Here is a joke that may explain the essence of the problem:

"My child is only two years old - can I start to bring him up?"

"You sure can and you should! You're already two years late."

As a matter of fact, the process of education is largely based on punishment and encouragement. It is hard to teach a young person "what is good and what is bad" without moral incentives. In the end, they use reflexes to train even animals, and the brain of a preschooler is developed a lot better. So the starry arguments about the alleged "insanity" of minors - is BS. Teenagers can perfectly confirm this. They can attack and rob a stranger, but they never rat from their friends. Because they know that laws may vary regarding their guilt, but their friends will not bother themselves such foolishness - they will teach them a lesson that one will never be able to forget.

The system of penalties could incur significant changes. Nowadays, it rushes between the two extremes - "probation" and actual imprisonment. Probation does not always lead to improvement, if a teenager does not have a clear understanding of what they managed to escape in prison. A fully served term often becomes a "prison college", a way to form a full-fledged criminal. If, for example, juvenile perpetrators were sent to special schools, the situation would most likely change for the better. The period to stay in such schools could be limited to a few days or even hours. After such an experience, the desire to continue the "feats" would diminish considerably.

Yuri Nosovsky


Read the original in Russian 

Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov