Photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash

Age is not an acceptable measurement

March 31, 2020

  Accountability is something we deal with every day. Each of our actions has a consequence. But at what age should our consequences be decided? And is age even an acceptable measure of that accountability? 

     Take drinking for example. You cannot legally drink alcohol until you are 21 but may receive a Minor in Possession (MIP) conviction when you are below that age. 

     Driving is a more curious example. You technically cannot get a license until at least 16 years of age. Driving without a license can cause a variety of different issues.  

     These are both forgivable missteps that “kids” are usually forgiven for. In their defense, we hear a lot of “Oh, they are just a child! Happens all the time!”  

     But are they really children? Apparently, there is a big difference between being 17 and being 18 that somehow measures when you are considered a minor versus an adult. This gap really isn’t all that big.  

     To say that a 17-year-old is any less accountable than an 18-year-old is ridiculous.  It is important to set age limits; however, there is no reason that the same 17-year-old should be forgiven for major crimes just because of their age.  

     Major crimes include those such as murder, rape, robbery, assault, etc.  

     For example, a 16 or 17-year-old “kid” raping another person. Hopefully they are tried, and punishment is dealt to them. But what happens when age impedes justice? Will they be sentenced to a lesser punishment than an “adult” would?  

     Most of the time, the answer is yes. Because of their age, they are merely forgiven, even if they are tried as an adult. 

     Let’s say that anyone between the ages 18 and 20 committed the same crime. They are obviously tried as adults. If they are found guilty, they are dealt punishments with likely no remorse, regardless of their age, because they are legally considered an adult.  

     It is incredibly difficult to gauge at what point someone should be held accountable for certain crimes, though age is not the most ideal way to do it.  

     Trying a 16 or 17-year-old as an adult makes sense. I think they are of the same mind as most other 18 to 20-year-olds. Although, not all people between those ages are of the same education or abilities, I believe the majority are. 

     If I were to look at myself as an example, many of the decisions I made as a 16 to 18-year-old were considered thoughtfully, and that process has barely changed if at all. The level of my education has changed, sure, but I could still make sound decisions a few years ago, same as I do today. 

     This does not go for everyone. Other people my age horrible decisions and won’t develop a good decision-making process for a couple of years. Others are steps ahead and were already well cognitively developed when they were only 14-years-old.  

     Some children are fully capable of premeditated murder just like an adult, but their age decides the punishment — —if there is any at all.  

     Age is very approximate and is used by officials to find an average representation for everyone. Just because most people are held accountable at 18, dependent on the crime, doesn’t mean everyone younger should receive a pass.