In Australia, at this time, a child as young as 10 can be charged with a crime, put before a court and punished as a criminal. Jesuit Social Services believes this is not only bad for children, but also for the wider community. Our new paper—Raising the Age of Criminal Responsibility: There is a better way —shows the way forward.
We believe the age of criminal responsibility should be raised to 14, in line with international standards. But we should not stop there.
Our paper shows that we can hold children more effectively to account for their actions, prevent further antisocial behaviour, and better protect the wider community. It is based on extensive Australian and international psychological, social and criminological research.
The message is clear: our current approach makes us less safe and hurts vulnerable children. A different approach would be both more just and more effective.