If you are 10, you go to prison: Children’s Understanding of the Age of Criminal Responsibility
journal contributionposted on 27.10.2016, 11:40 by Dawn E. Watkins, E. Lai-Chong Law, Joanna Barwick, Elee Kirk
Under Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) , all child ren who are capable of forming their own view s ha ve the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the m . T hrough the use of innovative, participatory methods, the authors of this paper have gathered the views of over 600 children aged 8 - 11 years concerning the current age of criminal res ponsibility under English law. The aim of this article is to demonstrate what and how children think about the age of criminal responsibility; in the hope that children’s views, both individually and collectively, will both inform and influence debate on this significant issue. T hrough their analysis of children’s views , the authors demonstrate in this article that there exists for children a strong association between the notion of criminal responsibility and imprisonment. In light of this, the authors suggest that alongside the discussions that are taking place around the appropriate age for setting criminal responsibility, priority must also be given to the consideration of steps that can and should be taken to increas e children’s awareness of the English legal system ; to enhance their understanding of the criminal justice system and to improve their knowledge and understanding of children’s rights both in the context of wrong - doing, and more widely.