Politics

Kids As Young As Ten Are Being Jailed, But A Campaign Is Fighting To Change That

Here's why people are sharing photos of themselves at ten-years-old.

raise the age

Right now in Australia, children as young as ten can be arrested and jailed. That’s apparently too young to be responsible for a Facebook account, but old enough to be responsible for a crime.

Studies have shown that at this age the human brain is a long way from developing proper impulse control and decision-making skills.

That’s why a group of legal, medical and social justice groups have been fighting for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised from 10 to 14, in line with UN recommendations.

Australia kept almost 600 children aged 10 to 13 in detention last financial year, and more than 60 percent were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

Campaigners are hoping the Black Lives Matter movement, which has a particular focus on the relationship between police and our Indigenous communities, will help build some momentum.

Meanwhile, online people are sharing their support of a national campaign to Raise The Age by sharing photos of themselves from when they were 10.

The Council of Attorneys-General — which is broadly responsible for law reform — has appointed a working group to review the minimum age of criminal responsibility, and they’ll discuss it at their biannual meeting on Monday.

Almost 70 percent of 10-year-olds in detention had also received child protection services, according to data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

The Raise The Age campaign argues that instead of being locked up, these kids should be given access to mental health care, mentoring, education and employment opportunities.

Linda Burney — Shadow Minister for Families — also told Junkee she’s urging the federal government to work with states and territories to form a national approach to the issue, included as part of new Closing the Gap targets.

“The overrepresentation of Indigenous children in incarceration and out-of-home care is unacceptable. All options to end this disproportionate representation should be on the table,” she said.

The Raise The Age campaign was developed by a coalition of experts including the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, Australian Indigenous Doctors Association, Human Rights Law Centre, Law Council of Australia, Amnesty International Australia and the Australian Medical Association.

You can sign the petition in support of Raise The Age here.