#14Reasons to #RaisetheAge of legal responsibility

In Australia children as young as 10 are imprisoned each year, held in youth detention centres, away from their families and communities, enduring significant mental harm

While children that are 10 years old not yet even in high school they may be incarcerated. These children generally come from disadvantaged backgrounds and low income communities. They generally have not been able to access the opportunities that many of us take for granted. Many are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders that come from families that have faced generational disadvantages

We believe that no child should be in prison. We are heartened to observe that the state attorney generals and the federal attorney general have sought to facilitate a dialogue in relation to raising the age of legal responsibility This is a seminal moment where all Australians can come together to make a real change.

We together with a chorus of other agencies, including community organisations, academics and health sector professionals are calling for a raising of the age of legal responsibility to 14 years old.

This page, is a legal education initiative focused on explaining the reasoning behind us taking this position, and also on providing resources to educators and individuals interested in facilitating a dialogue in regard to #RaisingtheAge

These are our #14reasons for #RaisingtheAge  

 

Prison has harmful effects on children, and may increase disadvantage

Prison is not a place for children, and may expose them to complex risks such as potential abuse Children may find themselves at a distinct disadvantage upon release due to lost learning and developmental opportunities that are presented beyond the walls of prison Research suggests that increasing the age of responsibility might may actually reduce the potential for further crime

Imprisoning children is archaic and not in line with the rest of the world,

Not only are we somewhat different to everyone else, the difference is quite extreme, in fact we rank amongst lowest in terms of the age of legal responsibility, meaning that we imprison children younger than in most other countries. In Italy, and Spain, 14 years is the age of legal responsibility, in Sweden, Norway and Denmark its 15 while in Portugal it is 16, while in Brazil, Peru Uruguay it is 18, in fact, most OECD countries have an age of legal responsibility higher than Australia.

Many countries have dramatically reduced youth offending by #RaisingtheAge

A substantial number of long term studies of youth strongly suggest that raising the age of legal responsibility will actually reduce the rate of youth offending. So raising the age is likely to reducing criminal behaviour, and also rates of recidivism.

Many countries have dramatically reduced youth offending by #RaisingtheAge

A substantial number of long term studies of youth strongly suggest that raising the age of legal responsibility will actually reduce the rate of youth offending. So raising the age is likely to reducing criminal behaviour, and also rates of recidivism.

Money spent on putting children in prison is better spent on community justice programs

Justice reinvestment has been proven to be an effective tool to reduce crime and recidivism, imprisoning children has not been shown to reduce crime, with research indicating that raising the age of responsibility actually reduces the rate of offending.

Research indicates that imprisoning children does not reduce crime rates

Extensive long term research has been conducted into the implications of raising the age of legal responsibility The research indicates that raising the age of legal responsibility reduces recidivism and youth offending, while imprisoning children is not shown to reduce the rates of offending

Children that are imprisoned are less likely to complete their secure employment

Securing employment is something that many take for granted, yet it is essential to achieving security and securing housing Children that are imprisoned are less likely to secure gainful employment and this will have implications for their ability to contribute to society in the future

Many children that are imprisoned have complex backgrounds having faced significant social and economic challenges

This is perhaps unsurprising but many of the children in prison have been victims of violence or abuse and have faced major social and economic disadvantage, through no fault of their own

Children that are imprisoned have no access to rehabilitative services, to their family or community

Separating children from important services and their family and community is damaging to the family unit and the community, and may further entrench disadvantage.

Children that are imprisoned are less likely to pursue further education

Prison reduces the likelihood of a child completing their schooling and dramatically reduces the likelihood of further tertiary study.

Many children in prison evidence significant mental disorders that may be exacerbated by prison

Children that are imprisoned are not fully cognitively developed and may be more susceptible to mental harm. Many children may already evidence psychological disorders and mental illness that may be exacerbated by being incarcerated and not having access to therapeutic services.

Aboriginal children are disproportionately impacted by current legal responsibility laws

With over 300 Aboriginal children in remand, Aboriginal children are the most impacted by current laws. Many of these children are already in a position of disadvantage as is evident within closing the gap reporting.

Aboriginal children are disproportionately impacted by current legal responsibility laws

With over 300 Aboriginal children in remand, Aboriginal children are the most impacted by current laws. Many of these children are already in a position of disadvantage as is evident within closing the gap reporting.

Children should be in Schools not in prisons

Most simply put, children should be educated, and have access to care and support services. They should be able to be nurtured and afforded the opportunity to succeed.

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