In the news recently there is concern about the potential release from prison of Jon Venables a child murderer of a child. He and Robert Thompson killed a little boy James Bulger just 2, some 20 years ago, and it was a horrific murder. The murderers were 10 years old.
They were duly convicted and sentenced to detention; both were released on licence in 2009 and given new identities, but Jon Venables’ licence was revoked in 2010 and he was sent back to prison, having committed further wicked and serious offences.
This case continues to generate controversy about how young offenders should be dealt with, and what should happen about releasing them back into society.
How does English law handle children who commit crimes? We consider that children become ‘criminally responsible’ at the age of 10 years – so younger kids cannot be regarded to have committed a crime, whatever they have done. Adolescents between 10 and 17 years are dealt with by youth courts.
The age of criminal responsibility is higher in some other countries, and there are pressures to raise it here. It is claimed that some children haven’t developed sufficient ability in decision making, understanding, or self control to be responsible for their actions. The concept is that children under 10 don’t know right from wrong. The government justice minister is looking to changing the age, possibly to 12.
Personally, I don’t have a lot of truck with this progressive move. Most children should understand what is wicked by the time they are 10 years old. They should also have been taught and learned what is right and wrong. Our society is breading a generation of people who have no conscience, are violent, self centred, and are totally irresponsible in their behaviour. This is not just the fault of the demonic media, but primarily the parents. Parents take zero responsibility for their children’s behaviour and there is little in the way of family ‘shame’ in the present age.
My solution is that ‘somebody’ must always be held accountable for criminal acts. So if a child is deemed to be “too young” to be blamed, then the parents should be in the dock. That way those irresponsible parents who let their offspring run riot in their communities, and provide no proper parenting or behavioural or moral guidance, will become accountable and suffer the consequences.
Whatever the Bible says!
Deuteronomy 24:16 “Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their fathers; a person shall be put to death for his own sin.