10/10/2011

Kids in Court


Kids in Court
The teenage mind is often a place of confusion, stress, growth and developing maturity.  As people grow, their minds develop at different rates.  They learn what is morally right and wrong, self control, mature thinking and how to handle difficult situations.  The longer people live the more they are able to successfully handle such situations.  As each person gets older they grow stronger, not only physically, but emotionally as well.  By the time most children grow into their teenage years they have learned that certain choices can quickly turn from ‘okay’ to ‘grossly wrong’.  Young children are continuously taught by their parents the age old saying “two wrongs do not make a right”.  But let’s face it; does the average teenager have enough patience to listen to that?  If his or her classmate turns around and tears up the homework they need for that day, won’t they most likely turn around and do the same to the culprit? 
As teenagers, people do not have the patience to simply solve problems by force of words.  In fact, it is more likely that teens will turn to violence to solve their problems whereas an adult is far less likely to.  Teens simply do not take a moment to think of the consequences an action can give like a responsible adult would.  Is it fair to claim that a sixteen-year-old will think about the consequences of their actions like that of a twenty-five-year-old?  In the U.S., teens are often charged as adults when they have committed a severe crime. Yet, when looking at the whole picture, this does not make sense.  There is a great amount of evidence that supports a need for the change of such a law.
  Adults are given harsher punishments when they have done something illegal because they have lived a substantial amount of years to know that their actions have consequences. If an adult commits a crime such as murder, rape, kidnapping or other equally heinous crimes, punishment is not only so the victim receives justice, but because the offender was said to be a mature adult after the age of eighteen.  The reason that this is said to be the legal age of adulthood is because it is the age that most are considered mature enough to make and follow through with adult decisions.  Legal adults are therefore given more rights and privileges than those under the legal age because they have been deemed mature enough to handle more difficult situations and are old enough to make important and life changing decisions. Considering this, is it fair that the only time a person under the age of eighteen is considered an adult is when they break the law?  Is giving a person with no of-age rights an adult charge really justice?  There is reason to the set age of adulthood. It is because people are simply not done maturing or developing until after, or towards the end of, their teenage years (-).  So does charging a child who does not have of-age rights as a legal adult in the court of law really sound like a wise idea?  
If a room full of juniors in high school were to tear up their classroom, they would most likely be punished with Saturday school, which is often a four hour long sentence.  But if a room full of third graders were to do the same, would their punishment also be a four hour long detention?  The answer, obviously, is no.  Students are not given such a harsh sentence until they reach the age where it is appropriate to receive such.  It would seem, to most, as cruel and unusual punishment to give a group of children chastisement that is fit for a high school.  So why, when the concept is the same, is it okay to give a teenager a life long sentence in adult jail for a crime they committed before the age of legal adulthood?
  The court system says that the harsher the crime is the harsher the sentence should be; and in no way is that a false statement.  Many people believe that when a child takes on an adult responsibility, or commits an adult crime, they should be charged as an adult.  This is not strong reasoning simply for the fact that children should not be taking on adult responsibilities in the first place, for it usually does not end well.  Just because a child thinks they can handle an adult responsibility does not mean they are actually mature enough to do so.  Along with this is the trouble of teen law-breakers not getting a strong sentence.  The problem with teens being charged as teens is that they are not given a harsh enough punishment in cases where an extremely severe crime has been committed.  For instance, if a sixteen-year-old boy beats another boy to death he is sentenced to a juvenile jail until he is eighteen-years-old and then his sentence is over ( - ).  Even worse, after his short sentence the boy would be out of the states supervision by the time he is twenty-one ( - ).  Obviously that is not a just punishment and such a rule desperately needs changed.  The main reason why so many teens are charged as adults is because after their sentence if they commit another crime, the court system cannot use their previous defense as evidence.  The main reason for this is because juvenile records are sealed and extremely hard to open once someone becomes a legal adult.  If a circumstance develops where a crime that has gone on was heinous enough to make a teenager be charged as an adult, their personal record should not be sealed.  When an underage person breaks the law in such a gross manner their juvenile record should automatically be opened for the rest of his or her life.  Simply opening a juvenile record instead of charging a child as an adult seems to make more sense.
Common sense says a fifteen-year-old girl should not be sentenced to life in adult jail for an offense made at such an immature time in her life.  Instead of being in juvenile hall for three years and completely out of state supervision at twenty-one she should be given an appropriate time sentence based of the heinousness of her crime and at what age she was when it was committed.  The girl should spend time in juvenile jail until she is of-age and then be transferred to an adult prison where the rest of her juvenile sentence can be served.  The reason is because this child is not at the same emotional state as someone who is done maturing.  Children who are still very immature still possess strong egocentric characteristics.  To be egocentric is to be selfish and inconsiderate of others.  The more each person ages, the less selfish they become ( - ).  When people are young they do not think of how others will fee and they do not think about how their actions will affect anyone around them. 
Take this into consideration:  A man gets mad at his neighbor for continuously letting their dog ruin his flowers.  The man tells his neighbor to please keep the dog indoors and the problem will be solved.  A week later the dog ends up tearing through the man’s trash and terrorizing his three-year-old daughter.  Three days following the dog disappears.  It would not be surprising for the neighbor to believe that the man disposed of her beloved animal.  The neighbor is so distraught at the fact that her dog will be gone forever that he or she cannot even get up for work in the morning.  The neighbor decides to get even with the man who disposed of the dog.  The neighbor conceives a plan for ridding the world of this man. The neighbor sets up supplies that he or she thinks will get the job quickly.  The plan is to murder the man who most likely murdered the dog.  After the entire plan is laid out, the neighbor starts thinking about what is about to take place.  The neighbor looks at the little girl playing catch with the man who is though to have murdered the dog.  The neighbor notices that the man’s daughter basically worships the ground her father walks on.  The neighbor continues watching.  His wife brings out cold drinks for the two and the man sits down beside her.  The neighbor begins to think about what it is he or she is about to do, not only to the man, but also to his entire family.  The neighbor throws the plan away and decides that maybe the man wouldn’t have done something like that to the animal.  He or she decides to let the man continue to live in peace and to just talk about where her missing dog could have possibly gone to.  The problem is solved.
 By thinking about what the death of the man would do to his family, the neighbor revealed that he or she lost heir egocentrically way of thinking.  They stopped thinking about how hurt they were and eliminated their selfish thoughts.  The reason the neighbor was unable to commit such a crime was because they had the maturity to think about, not only the victim, but the others who would be involved and would be hurt by the loss of him. 
Someone who is not done maturing would not have the ability to stay calm enough to think about what kind of pain they would be causing on a related party.  Had they been older, they would have had the developed patience to stop and think about what it is they were planning to do.  Children, not only young children, but teenagers also, are extremely egocentric.  All they can do is think about how they themselves are hurt and how they must seek revenge.
Children are children, no matter how you look at it.  Kids try to do adult things all the time, and they are usually never able to succeed the way an actual adult would be able to.  Until the late teenage years and early twenties, people are not done psychologically maturing and are therefore unable to cope with the same extent of problems the way a twenty-two-year-old would be able to.  Until people are old enough to be called a mature adult, they should not be charged as one.  Eighteen has been set as the legal age of adulthood.  And no one wants to break the law, right?
Advocates for Abandoned Adolescents - Our Mission is to do better!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

If I Get Out Alive - Children Sentenced to Adult Prison - Press Play to Listen

Broken on all sides

Popular Posts

There was an error in this gadget