People Are Sharing Childhood Pics To Remind Australia We’re Still Locking Up Ten-Year-Olds
It's been one year since the law reformists refused to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14-years-old.
It’s been one year since Australia’s Council of Attorneys-General refused to raise the age of criminal responsibility. Currently, kids as young as ten can be thrown in jail, despite a national campaign to boost the age up to at least 14, per UN recommendations.
“At ten years old, the majority of children are still small enough for a car booster seat. They are still losing baby teeth. Their young brains are at a critical stage of development,” the #RaiseTheAge campaign wrote in a statement today.
This time last year, it was proposed that offending children should be offered mental health support, mentoring, and education instead. The working group exploring the possibility deferred making a call, saying they needed for “further work to occur regarding the need for adequate processes and services for children who exhibit offending behaviour”. Throwing kids in jail can cause lifelong health and mental issues, impact communities, and disproportionately affect Indigenous children.
An additional 499 children under the age of 13 have been locked away in the year since gone. Over half of the incarcerated kids aged between 10-17 held between 2019 and last year were Indigenous, despite only forming six percent of the age group in the country.
Now, activists and families are waiting for an update on the proposed alternative justice solutions, after deafening silence from the country’s chief legal reformists. Human rights, legal, and medical groups are now encouraging people to write to Federal Attorney-General, Michaelia Cash, according to SBS.
“Every day that attorneys general refuse to act, they are condemning a generation of our children to a lifetime behind bars. Ten-year-old children who get trapped in the criminal justice system don’t come out,” Co-Chair of Change the Record, Cheryl Axelby, told media.
To ground the reality of a ten-year-old being a child, and not a number, people have shared throwback photos of themselves and what they loved doing at that age:
This is #MeAtTen in my pink party dress. Shockingly, children this age can be arrested and locked away in prisons right across Australia. It's been one year since Attorneys-General met to discuss #RaiseTheAge & failed to fix the broken laws. Today we call for urgent action 👇 pic.twitter.com/Bwb3jzbbmP
— Sophie Trevitt (@SophieTrevitt) July 26, 2021
This is #MeAtTen Grade 5 primary school. Children belong in playgrounds & classrooms. But across Australia laws allow governments to arrest, prosecute & lock up kids as young as 10. Hundreds of kids aged 10-13 are locked up every year. It’s time to #RaiseTheAge pic.twitter.com/yVMGGaPemF
— Hugh de Kretser (@HughdeKretser) July 26, 2021
1 yr ago state & attorneys General failed to #RaiseTheAge of criminal responsibility. Since then 949 kids were in prison on a av night; 600 were aged 10-13yrs with 86% on remand. Here I am at 10 heading off to school. Our Govt says kids at this age belong in prison #RaiseTheAge pic.twitter.com/5na4Qg3GS3
— Dr Tracy Westerman AM (@TracyWesterman) July 26, 2021
This is #MeAt10 (with my mate Doofus).
Right now, across the country, laws allow for children this young to be arrested, hauled before courts and locked up in prisons cells. It’s time to #RaiseTheAge from 10 to at least 14. Children should be playing with dogs not behind bars. pic.twitter.com/8RPfuws3NA
— Michelle Bennett (@mm_bennett) July 26, 2021
This is me at 10. Learning to roller blade on my grandparents verandah. Children don’t belong in prison, they need support and the chance to thrive. Australia currently locks up children as young as 10 and it has to stop. #MeAtTen #RaiseTheAge @amnestyOz pic.twitter.com/lcBTtxirC3
— Maggie Munn 🌈 (@MaggieMunn) July 26, 2021