Aging our children: Column
In the Media - 08/25/2015
Last Friday, a Wisconsin judge entered not guilty pleas on behalf of two 13-year-old girls accused of repeatedly stabbing a classmate just to please the fictional horror character Slender Man. Rejecting defense counsel’s arguments for transferring jurisdiction to juvenile court, Judge Michael Bohren insisted that the girls be tried in criminal court. The apparent motive for the attack is absolutely absurd, but then so is the notion that 13-year-olds have the same level of maturity and reasoning ability as adults.
In Wisconsin and many other states, kids age 13, and even younger, are considered old enough to face a jury “of their peers” in adult court, but not old enough to serve on a jury that would decide their fate. They are presumed to have the same ability as adults to discern right and wrong, but not guilt and innocence.