Trying Children

January 11, 2010
By Anonymous

On the topic of Juvenile criminals and how they should be tried there are two main views, that they should be tried as adults or that they shouldn’t. Author Jessica Wilde believes that the judiciary system should not make age-based exceptions. In her article, “Juvenile Criminals Must Be Tried As Adults”, Wilde shows her opinion through examples of horrendous crimes such as the murder of a 2 year old by two juveniles. However in “Stop Trying 13-year-olds In Court As Adults”, author Mike Hendricks documents his opinion that children should be tried based on age. He explains this throughout his many examples such as many cases in which children come out of prison more dangerous and damaged then when they went in. Overall the opinions of the authors are extremely different showing the two most radical positions in this argument.

Should children be tried as adults? I think they should be. I think that limitations should be lowered but where the actual cut off is I don’t know. There are a larger number of children under the age of 18 that are in the same gangs and are committing the same crimes as those over 18 but aren’t getting punished as severely for it. Why not? They have the same motives and the same understanding of action versus consequence as the others; according to Wilde they aren’t punished as severely, “purely because of their age” (2). I think that at some point under the age of 18 “children” should have gained an equal knowledge of the cost of a life, an understanding, as I said before, of action vs. consequence, and the emotional trauma it brings to the family of the victim just as well as some one over 18 would have. Wouldn’t you want them tried as adults if they killed or harmed one of your loved ones? Aren’t all crimes the same? They could have easily had the same motives and lack of morals as an “adult” would.

There are others who believe that these ‘children’ shouldn’t be punished as severely as adults for the same basic crimes, solely because they are younger. Those against this form of justice, such as Mike Hendricks, say, “ The fact is that kids are not adults. Their brains are wired differently. They don’t think things out the way we do,” (15). They think that only once you turn 18 do you understand the trauma and have the ability to understand your actions. They also believe that because a jury of their peers doesn’t try them they don’t get fair trials. But if juries of the child’s own peers tried them, do you think the opposition views would change? Another point they often make is that when children are under 18 their brains are malleable and susceptible to rehabilitation and therefore their morals can change. Can you really change someone’s morals? I believe that you are born with them and that no mater what you do you can’t change someone’s morals.

In conclusion, I believe that children should be tried as adults due to the fact that they can have the same morals and reasons to commit the crime as adults would. They would have an understanding of the consequences of their actions and the trauma it brings to the victim and or their families. I see absolutely no reason not to punish these ‘juvenile delinquents’ as severely as adults. Seeing as though there are many oppositions to this form of justice I ask you, the reader what you would want if they had harmed or killed one of your loved ones. Would you want them to go to juvenile detention centers and leave with a vague reminder of what they had truly done or would you want them to be tried as adults and remember what they had done and how much it hurt you for the rest of their lives?

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