Should 10 year olds be allowed to appear in court?

The trial of an 11 year old and a 10 year old over the alleged rape of an 8 year old girl brings up questions about how old people need to be to stand trial. Many experts believe that they would not understand what is going on and could not follow the proceedings of the trial or fully understand its implications. Equally having children as witnesses can cause complications as they are much easier to lead than an adult would be. Should children go to court?

Should 10 year olds be allowed to appear in court?

Yes because... No because...

children need to understand the consequences of their actions

Children attempt bad behaviour that they know they can get away with, and try to push the boundaries as much as possible – they need to know that certain types of behaviour, such as murder and rape, are so serious and have such serious punishments that it isn't worth trying.

"The kids know the law is soft... If we raise the age they will be getting younger people to carry their weapons or their drugs... We have to tell children 'you have done wrong', and if that means going through the court system that's what we have to do." (Lynne Costello, Mothers Against Murder and Aggression (MAMAA) - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8100319.stm)

Giving children a criminal record won't give them a chance to think about consequences, because it is likely to ruin their future – they will fall in with the wrong crowd, their job prospects will be ruined and they are likely to develop worse psychological problems as a result of the ordeal at such a young age.
The current criminal justice system doesn't prevent re-offenders properly as it is, why would it work on children?

Should 10 year olds be allowed to appear in court?

Yes because... No because...

Children today grow up faster

Children are less innocent than they used to be, they have access to drugs and weapons and information about serious crime simply through experience of living in rough neighbourhoods, they are expected to deal with more mature issues at an earlier age as they start school earlier and with such information introduced earlier in the curriculum, they are more likely to be able to watch television programmes that send out the wrong messages about crime.

Children are exposed to more adult material – but does this really mean they understand it, and can they make informed rational decisions about it? They may be distressed by it and act irrationally due to distress, or see it as entertainment, or copy it and expect the same results as on a television show that isn't supposed to be realistic.

Should 10 year olds be allowed to appear in court?

Yes because... No because...

They will be properly supervised.

A child would not commit a serious offense such as rape or murder if they did not have serious psychological problems or problems with abuse or at least a violent environment around them. Being tried in court means that at least the children will be able to receive some kind of help. They will most probably be strictly supervised and they will be on the Government radar for social workers, psychiatrists etc. where their existence might not have even been known of if something was keeping them out of school.

Should 10 year olds be allowed to appear in court?

Yes because... No because...

a child of this age would have no other legal rights or responsibilities

A ten-year-old can't vote, drink alcohol, drive, or get married – all because they are not considered mature enough to cope with the responsibility. Why would they be considered capable of appearing in court – a complicated and stressful process that many adults find they can't cope with?

Should 10 year olds be allowed to appear in court?

Yes because... No because...

A 10 year old is not fully mentally/emotionally mature.

Someone who cant control their own instincts needs to be kept under even tighter supervision. We section psychiatric patients who have no control over themselves and are a danger to themselves and others.

A ten year old cannot premeditate a crime. They cannot empathise with their victim, plan something in the long term or fully understand the consequences or ethical implications of their actions. They still mostly act on emotion or through flawed logic or selfishness.

According to Dr Eileen Vizard, a child psychiatrist with the NSPCC's Child Offender Service:

“There's a very substantial evidence base to show that children aged 10 are not fully mature... They show developmental immaturity in terms of their physical, intellectual, emotional, and social development.”

A child would also be easy to manipulate in court by an adult with ill intentions to confess or deny something they don't want to by persuading them or tricking them through legal jargon.

Should 10 year olds be allowed to appear in court?

Yes because... No because...

legal age is higher in most other countries

According to the Independent (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/the-big-question-at-what-age-should-children-be-held-responsible-for-their-criminal-acts-1546284.html):

'The age at which children can be prosecuted is far lower in Britain than it is in our nearest European neighbours. The minimum age is 12 in the Netherlands, 13 in France, 14 in Germany, 15 in Sweden and Italy, 16 in Spain and 18 in Belgium. Most US states do not stipulate when children can be prosecuted, but in those that do the age varies between six and 12. Australia followed the English lead and set a minimum of 10, while it is 12 in Canada, 14 in New Zealand and 15 in Japan. Fixing an age of criminal responsibility does not necessarily mean children are jailed. Instead, it leads to young law-breakers being treated as a welfare problem.'

Should 10 year olds be allowed to appear in court?

Yes because... No because...

If ten year olds could appear in court...

Ness could make up the lost time using his phase distorter.

Once he learned PK Teleport, it would be impossible to detain him or keep track of his whereabouts anyway.

Ness would never get around to defeating Giygas, due to his constant run-ins with the police in Onett, probably due to his habit of hitting stray dogs and hippies with baseball bats.

There is no room to cast PK Teleport in a courtroom. You need an unobstructed long corridor or corcular area to get a good run-up. A Phase Distorter probably would not fit in a courtroom either.

Debates > Should 10 year olds be allowed to appear in court?
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