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Thread: How Old Is Old Enough? A Look at When Children are Considered Adults

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    Senior Member Verðandi's Avatar
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    How Old Is Old Enough? A Look at When Children are Considered Adults

    Source: NYT (11-14-09)
    THIS past week the Supreme Court heard arguments about whether children should ever be sentenced to life without parole for crimes that don’t involve murder.

    At the heart of the argument lies a vexing question: When should a person be treated as an adult?

    The answer, generally, is 18 — the age when the United States, and the rest of the world, considers young people capable of accepting responsibility for their actions. But there are countless deviations from this benchmark, both around the world (the bar mitzvah, for instance), and within the United States...

    ... And if you think separating the men from the boys (or the women from the girls) is difficult today, tracing the history of America’s conception of childhood just complicates things further.

    In the 19th century, teenagers were expected to raise their own children and work in the fields. This was true even though 19th-century teenagers were physically and intellectually less advanced than teenagers today. Thanks to better nutrition and more formal schooling, today’s children generally reach puberty earlier and are, at least in theory, more informed about the world around them.

    In other words, the only thing that is consistent about our notions of when a child becomes an adult is our inconsistency, says Steven Mintz, a historian at Columbia University...

    ... In Florida, for instance, the state got tough on teenage criminals when juvenile crime rates jumped during the 1990s, threatening not only residents and visitors, but Florida’s bedrock tourism industry itself. Two such juvenile offenders, one who raped a woman when he was 13, and another who committed armed robbery at 16, brought the appeals heard by the Supreme Court last week...

    ... Over the years attempts have been made to align these various ages of majority. The voting age was lowered during the Vietnam War, for example, largely because Americans were uncomfortable with a democracy that forced 18-year-olds to die for their country but denied them suffrage...


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    I think there should be a gradient. If you are 17 you get 95% the treatment of an adult- that would be about 95% of the punishment for an equal crime. If 16 maybe 85% if 15 about 75% and so on down until about age 9 or so. The other 5% of the punishment would be on the parents or guardian. Before that I don't think a child can mentally comprehend what they are doing and the parents would be 100% responsible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rainman View Post
    I think there should be a gradient. If you are 17 you get 95% the treatment of an adult- that would be about 95% of the punishment for an equal crime. If 16 maybe 85% if 15 about 75% and so on down until about age 9 or so. The other 5% of the punishment would be on the parents or guardian. Before that I don't think a child can mentally comprehend what they are doing and the parents would be 100% responsible.
    100% yes on holding parents responsible for the crimes of their minor children, but I think that 18 is far too old for them to be sentenced as an adult. For me, the age should be 15 or 16. These "kids" are probably more educated in some cases than the jury, they can take on jobs, by 16 they are trusted with cars, and anyone over the age of 4 knows that murder is wrong. Why coddle these criminals? Why give them a chushy stay in juvy for the same crime that would put an adult away for life -- for that matter, why clean their record at 18? None of this is a deterrent for a kid, in fact it seems like a good recipet for adults to use kids to do the crime because they won't be punushed as much.

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    I would have to agree. Once you reach 15 you are at least at the base intelligence level of the general populace (and some may argue that your intelligence declines from there). But at 16 would be a good age to start adulthood. Now I do not mean we should send them off into the world right then, but at least give them voting rights and such. The major issue is that schooling takes 12 (to 13) years. I think that higher education (IE. College) should start at 16. Those last two years are spent mostly on math and English, both of which are only required in specific careers (When I say English is only required in certain careers I mean to say that higher level, at that point you are studying novels, not the actual language). Then we should make high school more of a pre-college setting, where you get more choice as to what you study.

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    Actually, I would tackle things quite the other way around. At current, at least here, you are dealt with "Youth Law" if you're 14-17; if you are 18 then it has to be decided based on the facts of the case whether you were more like an adult or more like a child/an adolescent.

    I'd raise this to 21 years of age in an ideal society. We have our traditional rhythms in Germanic societies of 3x7 years until you are essentially an adult and most 19-20 year olds I meet don't think/act like adults but still more like adolescents, so this is perhaps true.

    It's an obvious problem now, since we have foreigners aged 15-20 committing much crimes, but once that is dealt with I would have no problem with setting the age everyone is considered an adult at 21 (thinking of it, I've probably felt and acted like an adult for 2-3 years, but I'm not everyone), most people I have talked to felt like they were ceasing to be adolescents and becoming adults somewhen between 20-22, so this'd tie up with this.
    -In kalte Schatten versunken... /Germaniens Volk erstarrt / Gefroren von Lügen / In denen die Welt verharrt-
    -Die alte Seele trauernd und verlassen / Verblassend in einer erklärbaren Welt / Schwebend in einem Dunst der Wehmut / Ein Schrei der nur unmerklich gellt-
    -Auch ich verspüre Demut / Vor dem alten Geiste der Ahnen / Wird es mir vergönnt sein / Gen Walhalla aufzufahren?-

    (Heimdalls Wacht, In kalte Schatten versunken, stanzas 4-6)

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    18. I look back to when I was 15 and 16 and feel utterly embarrassed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sigurd View Post
    if you are 18 then it has to be decided based on the facts of the case whether you were more like an adult or more like a child/an adolescent.

    I'd raise this to 21 years of age in an ideal society. We have our traditional rhythms in Germanic societies of 3x7 years until you are essentially an adult and most 19-20 year olds I meet don't think/act like adults but still more like adolescents, so this is perhaps true.
    Would you consider me an adult in your ideal society?

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    Quote Originally Posted by bæny View Post
    18. I look back to when I was 15 and 16 and feel utterly embarrassed.
    Everybody is to some level of degree looking back at those ages.

    [I know I do too looking back.]
    National Socialism is the only salvation for Germanics and Europids everywhere. Capitalism, libertarianism, and communism is the enemy.

    National socialized collectivism must prevail over radical individualism.

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    I say regardless of how they look, if you are old enough to kill, bash or rape you are old enough to go away for a very long time - life if need be.

    No second chances, I believe that this liberal attitude has degenerated us and allowed foreigners to dictate what we can and can't do by weakening our values and morality.

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    I don't see why a murderer in his youth shouldn't recieve life without parole. If they are 15 at the time of the murder they are 3 years away from being 18. For three years after sentencing he will remain a child by law, from then on an adult (though in Sweden those under 21 are nowadays given more lenient sentences). After those three years are up and he becomes an adult he can and should spend the rest of his life serving time for his heinous act. Even if we assume the age of adulthood is legally 21 in some countries and the act was committed by say a 13 year old this still amounts to no more than 8 years for a crime of much longer sentencing value after which a person is adult.

    One should always consider the actions that we are talking about. These acts don't get to be less heinous simply because of the age of the criminal. These kids have not been naughty, they have killed or raped. Age need not play a factor in sentencing since age is not a factor in the crime, what we are punishing is not their age but their crime.

    A person has been murdered or a person has been raped. These are severe, heinous acts committed by a select few that should be sanctioned according to the severity of their acts. In an equal manner, there is no reason to object to the sentencing of the mentally ill or retarded, they are not sentenced because they are mentally ill or retarded but because of the acts they have committed, acts which are not committed by the mentally ill or retarded at large just as children at large don't rape or murder. They are acts committed by a select few of young and old, sane or insane individuals for whom punishment is reserved.

    These individuals, this small group of individuals, need to be sentenced and punished for the sake of justice.

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