Criminal Responsibility at 10


by



Wafeeq Sabir, PhD


Harvard psychologist B.F. Skinner is noted for his behavioral theories "which focused on the background of behavior and reinforcers" (Lefton, 2000, p.330). His works attempted to compare the relationship of changes within the environment, and how individuals respond to the changes within the environment. Skinner and other behaviorists claim that one's development is based on their past experiences in life, rather than genetics.
Psychologist Lev Vygotsky viewed child development through a sociocultural setting. He declared that a child's skills and knowledge base are all connected to the culture of that individual (Lefton, 2000).

Because social factors may precipitate delinquent behavior; including one's culture, socio-economic status, and peer association, children should be held accountable for delinquent conduct. In Texas, a child between the ages of 10 and 16 is deemed as criminally responsible for their actions (Texas, 2005). A 10 year old child who steals a pair of expensive basketball shoes under the intimidation constraints of being assaulted by an older adolescent is still criminally responsible. I believe that each case lies on its own merit and would have to be dealt with accordingly. A 10 year old who does this act out of fear or for survival purposes may however exhibit this behavior as a result of negative reinforcement but may also develop a sense of acceptance by others which may result in continuous delinquent behavior (Bartol, 2002). APA (2000) suggests that the behavior may be characteristic of Childhood Onset Conduct Disorder if the behavior continues.


References:
American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Bartol, C. R. (2002). Criminal behavior: A psychosocial approach (6th ed.). Upper Sadle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Lefton, L. A. (2000). Psychology (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Texas criminal and traffic law manual (2005-2006 ed.). (2005). Charlottesville, VA: LexisNexis

13 comments:

Mus'B'Nyce said...

i disagree with theory that i would genetically predisposed to chaos a lack of success just because my father was. i am not an alcoholic, jail bound, neglectful father with no education. however, my mother worked two jobs, raised 4 four kids & graduated validictorian. who's to say who i am to genetically. i've been a thorn in society as a youth, but today i'm en years into my military career, about graduate one program in criminal justice & about an LVN program. so who or which one of these am i to be

AaronAbel said...

I totally agree with The Criminal Responsibility at 10. Althought i do believe it is a bad example, as a 10 year old could easily be forced into doing such a thing, by a older, maybe bigger individual. Pressures like these should always be dealt with accordingly and individually, as each situation may be different. A statement like this is also included in the blog, which i also sided with. All in all, I believe the blog can be very educational, and useful, if taken into the right matter.

J Longoria said...

I believe that it has a lot to do with who you surround yourself with. I have a 10 year old brother who would never be caught stealing let alone even consider it. I know times are changing but what 10 year old comes up with the idea to steal in the first place. They cant even get to the store alone. Being held responsible for there actions I believe can be a good scare so that they change whom they hang out with but, thats about all.

Ryncko said...

I do not think that we can blame 100% on genes or 100% on upbringing. To think that a child of ten has the mental faculties to really appreciate the consequences of their acts is ridiculous. The child does need to be incarcerated to some extent but more importantly they need mental health and psychological attention in these facilities to straighten out the confusions of teachings from home. No child is beyond help in those impressionable years and educating parents is where we should start. Parenting classes should be part of yearly health checks for the family.

da40pilot said...

I don't think that kids at age ten have any business being crininaly charge as an adult. These are our kids, they should be held for there crimes but not to the extent of an adult. I also agree about the aspect of some children having mental issues. They should be treated accordingly not as an adult.

Sobe OZ said...

At the age of ten a child knows the difference between right and wrong, maybe even before that. Children shouldn't be punished as an adult, but should get a taste of what the consequences really are for their actions. It might not be possible to do because of funds. However, they should probably make a prison for children just for very short terms. Or maybe just sent them to Boot Camp, but something needs to be done about it. If they want to act like adults, they should get a taste of what an adult would be treated like for a crime. Sometimes there are mental issues involved, and sometimes it's just plain discipline issues.

Nida Raja said...

I agree that childern shouldn't be punished as a adult. Yes, they did the crime but their punishment shouldn't be as much of as an adult. They can have boot camps for kids who do such crimes to show them how it feels like when there are consequences to do crimes.And there are kids with mental problems but they can also have some instituions for those in a place just for them. Because most of them probably don't even know what their doing. They probably liked something and took it off the shelve and walked out of the store wiithout realizing that they have done a crime.
Nida Raja

andre said...

I somewhat agree with B.F Skinner's theories because of my own personal experiences. At the age of 16 saw my environment and said this is not how I want to live. I feel that social factors can take control of your life, if you let them. I also think a child surrounded by good strong morals and values has a better chance to succeed simply because they don't want to shame or be considered a disgrace to their parents.

Lora Wood said...

I agree with your article. I do also believe that cases should be looked at on a case to case basis. A 10 year old child knows what they nare doing, but does he have the mental capacity to process it and totally understand? That's been a hard question to answer.

CSP said...

When you say "I believe that each case lies on its own merit and would have to be dealt with accordingly" it sounds like it would be a great step but with so many cases within the court systems we simply do not have the man power or time to look at each one seperate from one another to that extent, which I do agree is a real problem. Even under this assesment however, their would still be unfair rulings, possibly even MORE without the set in stone laws.

O.Roach said...

This is a very scary and sticky concept. I feel that like most things responsibility is relative. Under duress,a ten year old is capable of pretty much anything. How much copability can a ten year old really have?

O.Roach said...

*culpability

Dave Weaver said...

"However, they should probably make a prison for children just for very short terms. Or maybe just sent them to Boot Camp, but something needs to be done about it."

I agree. Boot camp programs for troubled teens could be the perfect option to get them back on track and ready to grow into mature and responsible adults.

Boot camps can aid in teaching teens discipline while giving them an education. These programs are great for those teens who do not have any major behavioral issues, but just require more structure in their lives.