Archive | January 19, 2012

Criminally Responsible at What Age!

Criminally Responsible at What Age!

 

By Hwaa Irfan

 

This is not a ‘chicken or the egg’ issue, that alone is futile in a contemporary society whereby legalized forms of theft by those representing the country is quite apparent. All the same, criminal responsibility is on the long list of issues of the British state’s relationship with children.

With the concept of childhood thrown out the British window, and the government lacking poorly in what that means, in Indonesia at least the concept of childhood is being defended right now, even though the Indonesian state seems also to be remiss of the concept of childhood.

When a 15 year old boy stood accused and now facing 5 years imprisonment for stealing the $3.00 sandals of a police officer in 2010, and was beaten by three 3 police officers for doing so, the National Commission for Child Protection were less confused about criminal responsibility, and so was the boy. The NCCP instead got a big response for donations to buy the police officer new sandals. The public response was donations in the form of thousands of used flip flops (ship-ship). Three thousand flip flops were donated, and a call for the  boy to be acquitted. However, in the U.K. the speedy trials and sentencing of children aged 8 – 16 after the recent London riots, when an 11 year old was sentenced to youth rehabilitation for stealing a garbage bin by the Havering Youth Court in 2011. In the case of the Indonesian boy, NCCP, commented on children being sentenced for such a minor crime. The same sentiment was echoed by the U.K. charity Barnados to the BBC referring to it as a “minor offence” the legal judgement to which is “counterproductive”.

Society Teaches Irresponsibility

British society teaches that the youth are irresponsible by giving them permission to do many things without being held accountable for it. From drugs to sex, it is alright, in fact it is given as the full meaning of what it means to be young. With the highest teenage preganncy in Europe, British young people learn to have ‘free sex’ a misguided notion until one gets caught by catching a sexual disease, and or falling pregnant. The youth are encouraged to do this from schools where a young girl can get contraceptives, and the morning after pill without their parents being informed, so when she does fall pregnant the solution is an easy one, abort, so a young person learns that children are disposable, and not to be responsible for the situation that brought about a new life. Marriage is not necessary, so the youth join the rest of society in learning not to commit.

The Criminalizing Process

Then at school, becuase of the SUS/SAS laws, a child can be stopped and searched on the way to school, and on the way home from school, so they also learn to feel guilty. When any person is made to feel guilty for too long, they end up giving in, and say “I might as well.” We wont go into the racism behind it all, and the fact that Asians are two times more likely to be SASed, and African-Caribbeans are six times more likely to be SASed, a child form these two groups learn early on their lives to see themselves as the potential to do harm. Forty-two year old Richard Kessie recalls the 70s and the 80s to the BBC, and how it felt to be SASed…

“I felt humiliated. In those days the police thought you were nothing. It didn’t matter what you said, their word was worth more than yours. You were made to feel like a thief, even if you hadn’t done anything.”

That feeling does not go away!

The situation has far from improved since the 2011 London riots (well it was throughout Britain). With the worst level of unemployment in 17 years, the situation does not fair well for families in a country where:

Unemployment

  • Youth unemployment rose 32,000 to 951,000 in November 2011 i.e. at 20.3% the highest since 1992.
  • 49,000 people lost their jobs in the three months that led to November 2011
  • One quarter i.e. 1.35 million people of working age is not in employment.
  • U.K unemployment rose by 118,000 in the same period
  • U.K. unemploment for 16-24 year olds rose to 1.043 million

Living in London is expensive

Teenage Pregnancy

35,966 conceptions in the under-18s in 2009, the highest in Western Europe, but half of those pregnancies ended in abortion

This limits the worklife potential, and furthering of education in a society that is ill-equipped to support the family socially, and educationally. British teenaged mothers without the support that a young girl of the same age who is married in a developing country would get. British teenaged mothers have to go it alone, raising children, putting them through school, finding and sustaining employment, finding daycare, struggle to attain an education that can improve their standard of living, and therefore are three times more likely to get post-natal depression than older women according to Teenage Pregnancy Associates.

  • Children of teenage mothers have a 63% increased risk of being born into poverty
  • Half of all under 18 conceptions occur in the 20% deprived wards
  • Over one third of teenage mothers have no qualifi cations and 70% are not in education, training or employment
  • Teenage mothers, young fathers and their children are more likely to be in poor health and to      live in poor housing.

The recommendations by TPA are much to be desired as so far those facilities (SRE i.e. a liberal form of sex education, making contraceptives more accessible, contraceptives and abortions without parental approval) and are widely available and yet young girls still keep on getting pregnant. For far too many sex and babies are a misguided form of getting love.

Children Who End Up in Care

  • 83,000 British children ended      up in care (31 March 2010)
  • 58% of the 83,000 ended up      in care due to abuse or neglect

Lord Laming commented to Community Care:

“It is a huge step for the state to assume the parenting of a child or young person. With that comes the responsibility to provide stability, security and hope for the future. Sadly, the failure to secure proper care and support at this time, so critical in the development of the child, results in the continuation of the downward spiral towards imprisonment. We must not stand by and allow wasted opportunities to result in wasted later lives.”

Raising children is a responsibility that British children are not prepared for becuase they have never really been taught to be responsible. One can blame the parent, but too many external social factors including the media, the sex education program undermines parental responsibility.

Child Abuse

According to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, NSPCC,

  • 46,700 children in the UK are known to be at      risk of abuse right now (March 2011)
  • 23,000 police reports of child sexual abuse (rape,      incest and gross indecency)      were made in 2009-10.
      • 50+% were aged 12 – 15
      • One in four was aged        five to 11
      • 1,000 were aged 4-

Howw many children have learnt irresponsibility through the experience of abuse, when as a shining example the British-French ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ is to send French children who have been trafficked into the U.K. kindly back to France! The details of which does not pull together…

Then there is a failing education system that is pricing more and more young people out of education, an education that offer the opportunity to break out of the cycle of abuse, the cycle of poverty, and the cycle of disenfranchisement. The Child’s Society reports 1 in 11 British children are not surprisingly happy, and so there is the increasing problem of drug and sex addiction amongst British children!

The above is the legacy that society has left many British children with, along with parents who struggle to make ends meet. This legacy is left by politicians who would not have met such experiences, and more than likely attended a British boarding school, an institution which is renowned for being a “bastion of cruelty” as journalist George Monbiot rightly phrases it.

So the increasing sense of injustice as the gap widens between the haves and have nots should not be too surprising. The disenfranchised have experienced varied levels of cruelty, and their politicians have experienced various forms of psychological and phsycial cruelty disguised as superiority. This living reality presents a bigger national security threat than migrant families that have a greater sense of familihood, or Iran’s nuclear energy needs, or Turkey’s misguided application to become a member of the E.U.!

Criminal Responsibility

Yet, the only way that ‘experts’ seem to be able to cope with the idea of increased criminal activity of British children is to treat them like adults.

The age of criminal responisibility in Britain is 10… yes 10 years of age! At age 10, some children will be approaching puberty, and some have entered puberty, nevertheless, a 10 year old will be going through a lot of hormonal changes. So why has it taken all this time to come to the foreground that the brain does not mature until age 20? Indeed, the brain alone cannot explain all human actions, but even if the work of Nicholas Mackintosh, emeritus professor of experimental psychology at the University of Cambridge was listened to by the policy makers, at this point in time the brains of British policy makers are wired to view children as adults when it comes to crime with no influecing factors on their part.

With all the budget cuts and reforms that British policy makers are trying to push through in the name of “austerity measures” when it costs £600sterling a day to keep a youth offender in a secure unit, the savings they think they are making at one end of the cloth, is not only being transferred to the other end, but will increase dramatically if a British child continues to be viewed with suspicion by a state that prioritizes itself at the top of the list of “things to do.”

When governments wake up and remember that they are srrvants of the people and not the other way around, the principles of the Arab Spring might seep through yet to help shape a world where every child counts, and therefore their families!

References

Akwagyiram, A. “Is Stop And Search a Good Idea?” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7218680.stm

Baldini, L. “London Riots: Boy, 11, Sentenced Over Romford Bin Theft.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-14732986

Bellman, E. “Indonesians Protest With Flip-Flops.” http://blogs.wsj.com/searealtime/2012/01/03/indonesians-protest-with-flip-flops/

NSPCC. “Statistics on Looked After Children.” http://www.nspcc.org.uk/Inform/resourcesforprofessionals/looked_after_children_statistics_wda79691.html

“NSPCC Says Child Sex Abuse has Risen to 64 Crimes a Day.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-13542007

Pemberton, C. “Councils Fail to Divert Children in Care from Custody.” http://www.communitycare.co.uk/Articles/08/12/2011/117868/councils-fail-to-divert-children-in-care-from-custody.htm

“Should The Age of Criminal Responsibility Be Raised? Royal Society Claims Some Brains Don’t Mature Until 20.” http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2073463/Should-age-criminal-responsibility-raised-Royal-Society-claims-brains-dont-mature-20.html

‘Teenage Pregnancy: The Evidence.” http://teenagepregnancyassociates.co.uk/tpa-evidence.pdf

Travis, A. “Child Trafficking Victims Bounced Back to France Within Hours of Arrival in UK.” http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/jan/17/child-trafficking-victims-bounced-back

Wearden, G. “Youth Unemployment Hits Record High.” http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/jan/19/youth-unemployment-heads-towards-1-million

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