THE AGE OF RESPONSIBILITY 4
TheAge of Responsibility
TheAge of Responsibility
Steinbergand Scott argue that adolescents should not be held to the samedegree of responsibility as adults, when in a court of law. The basisbehind this argument is that adolescents are minors who are stilldeveloping and are mainly aged between eleven and eighteen years. Itis evident that subjecting such adolescents to punitive actions yetthey have an opportunity to reform is unacceptable. A vast majorityof the adolescents who engage in criminal activities do it as aresult of curiosity. In this regard, it can be argued that suchminors’ brains are no fully developed and therefore cannot makewise decisions. The implication of this aspect is that such minorscan reform when given the opportunity.
Accordingto Scientific research, the human mind is believed to fully developat the age of twenty five years. Therefore, they do not have themoral or intellectual capacity to understand their actions, as wellas the magnitude of their actions. Secondly, whereas adolescents areable to differentiate between right and wrong, they are unable tomake the right choices (Scot & Steinberg, 2008). Adolescents arebelieved to be acting on impulse and misconstrued social hints, whichlead them to trying out and get involved in risky behaviors. Researchhas indicated that some of these adolescents do not take time tothink of the consequences of their actions. It is imperative to notethat the brain difference does not imply that adolescents are unableto distinguish between right and wrong actions. It just implies theyare not old enough to make wise decisions.
Anotherreason as to why children judgment should be different from theadult’s standard is that children do not have similar rights as thegrown-ups (Hile, 2003). Scientific research has stated that there isa part of the brain in human beings referred to as amygdala, which isliable for instinctual responses including aggressive behavior andfear. This section develops early in the cycle of human growth.However, another section referred to as frontal cortex, the part thataids us to reason before we act and controls reasoning, develops at alater stage (Hile, 2003). Therefore, for the case of the adolescentchildren, this part of the brain has not fully developed. Therefore,it makes them not be able to make wise decisions. However, with time,it will develop and the children will be able to reason and make wisedecisions. Therefore, it would be wrong to judge the adolescent asadults based on this aspect.
Anotherreason is that children should be rehabilitated in juvenile prisonsinstead of adult prisons (Hile, 2003). This would give the minors anopportunity to reform and make wise decisions in future with lesssevere consequences. This is because at the time of committing thecrime, the minors might not have thought of the consequences.However, after the punishment, they are able to see their wrong andwhen given a second chance they would reason differently concerningthe same issue. Therefore, rehabilitation would help in identifyingtheir mistakes and help them to change for better (Hile, 2003).
Fromthe above discussion, it is clearly evident that it is not right foradolescents to be judged as adult because they are still growing andtheir brains are not able to make wise decisions. Secondly, thereasoning capacity of an adult and an adolescent is different and thetwo should not be judged in similar. Lastly, it is not right tocondemn a person because of experimenting due to the differentdevelopmental stage of life they face. However, throughrehabilitation, they are able to make wise decisions in future.Adolescents are not an exception but adults should help them fromthis wrong path into the right way.
Scott,E. S., & Steinberg, L. D. (2008). Rethinkingjuvenile justice.Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.
Hile,K. (2003). Trialof Juveniles as Adults.New York: Infobase Pub.