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Debate on Lowering The Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility

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Words: 1978 |

Pages: 4|

10 min read

Published: Apr 17, 2023

Words: 1978|Pages: 4|10 min read

Published: Apr 17, 2023

Recently, based on the written report of Romero, Senate President Vicente Sotto III filed Senate Bill No. 2026 or lowering the age of criminal responsibility from twelve to nine years old because of the alarming rise in the number of crime which involves juveniles. The law seek to amend Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, which exempts children aged 15 and below from criminal liability.

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Sotto believes that this law will help innocent children being abused by the criminals because the criminal organization takes advantage of the republic act by using minors to commit crimes, there are some serious cases shows that children fifteen and below beating each other to death, dragging an old man out of public utility vehicle to steal his purse, and taking the earnings of the jeepney driver, become runner of couriers of drug syndicates because they would not be held as criminal liable under the law and they will just be released back to the society and many of them will end up as repeat offenders.

The measure of the proposed law seeks to amend section 6, 20, 20-A, 20-B and 22 of the Republic act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act as amended so that a child under the age 18 but above the age of 9 at the time of the commission can be held criminally liable and subjected to appropriate proceedings unless it can be proven that he acted without discernment, in which case he will be exempt from criminal liability and subjected to appropriate intervention program.

If enacted, the bill will provide an intervention program for the children who commit crimes. They will be committed to a rehabilitation center or child-caring institutions. Moreover, If the crime committed by the child offender is punishable by imprisonment of 6 years or less (reclusion temporal), or reclusion perpetua if punishable by imprisonment of more than 6 years, the bill will penalize children for the commission of crimes.

The above reading highlighted the meaning and purpose of the Senate Bill No. 2026 or the Lowering of the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility amending the Republic Act 9344. It was stated there that the bill wants to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility due to the criminal acts committed by young offenders. Senator Sotto, who proposed the law, believed that it is the best way to stop juvenile delinquency.

Stages of Human Development. Every human being undergoes a process called psychological development. Toledo, defines psychological development as the development of individuals’ cognitive, emotional, intellectual, and also social capabilities and working through life expectancy, from infancy to seniority. It also a subject matter of discipline known as development psychology.

Bhutia et. al., cited three stages of psychological development, the infancy, childhood, adolescents. Infancy is a period between birth and acquisition of language. It is where the infant’s development takes place since it is the earliest stage of human development. Newborn are outfitted with an inclination for certain visual examples such as human face, specific sounds like human voice. By a couple of months they can already distinguish their mother through sight.

Second is the childhood stage. This stage is known to be the second significant stage in human development. It is usually from one to two years of age until the child reach adolescence at age of 12 or 13. At this stage the child will face enormous strides and compensation and utilization of language. The child expresses his first word by 13- 14 months and by 18th the child already has vocabulary words of at least 50 words, and they starts to use three word conversations.

The third and the most complex stage is adolescence or also known as puberty stage. Emotionally the adolescence is the point at which individual figures out how to control and direct sex and start to build up very own sexual role and relationship.

Similar to that, are the four stages of human development by Jean Piaget cited by Ansorge. Piaget’s stages of development are part of the theory about the phase of the normal intellectual development, from infancy to adulthood. The four stages are the following: Sensorimotor, birth through ages 18-24 months. Preoperational, toddlerhood (18 to 24 months) through early childhood (7 years old). Concrete operational, ages 7-11 years old. Formal operational, adolescence through adulthood.

Firstly, the sensorimotor stage. According to Piaget, infants at this early stage only aware of what is the right in front of them. They focus on what they see, what they are doing and physical interactions with their immediate environment. Infant shakes their hands, throw things and put objects in their mouth and learning something through trial and error it is because they don’t yet know how tings react, they are only experimenting. After the infant starts crawling, standing and walking, their increased physical mobility leads to more cognitive development.

Secondly, is the preoperational stage (toddler, or 7 years old). During this stage, the language that they use becomes more mature. Young children are able to think symbolically. They also develop memory and imagination, in which it allows them to understand the difference between past and future. But they cannot yet grasp more complex concepts, such as cause and effects and comparison. Their ability to think is based on intuition and not completely logical.

Next to preoperational stage is the concrete operational stage, the elementary or the preadolescent age (7-11 years old). A child at this stage begins to show logical and concrete reasoning. They begin to realize that their thoughts and feelings are unique and not be shared with others. They become less focus on themselves. But at this stage, most of the children cannot think abstractly or hypothetically.

Lastly, is the formal operational stage. It is usually at the age of 11 and above. During this stage children are able to use symbols related to abstracts concept, such as algebra and science. They can now come up with theories and able to think things in a systematic ways and also considering possibilities and can ponder abstract relationships and concepts such as justice.

Moreover, in the study conducted by Laycraft, found out that the mood and characteristics of an adolescent changes as his age change. In the early adolescents (10-13 years old), the children is changeable, have opposing emotions, shifting moods, indecision and doubt and often influenced by their peers. In the middle adolescents’ stage (14-16 years old), children during this stage have well-developed emotional system but the cognitive system still developing. Their mental structure is still in the chaotic state. And lastly the late adolescent stage (18-21 years old), individual can integrate potentially opposing attributes into higher-order abstractions. At this stage individual can already sustain and fulfill social responsibility.

The reading and literature presented above was the stages of human development and adolescent’s psychological development, wherein the article cited by Bhutia et. al., there are three stages of psychological development from infancy to adulthood. It is also explained the step by step psychological development by Jean Piaget from sensorimotor stage up to formal operational stage. Besides, according to Ansorge when a child reach the formal operational stage he is able to decide on his own because he is able to think creatively and critically. On the other hand in the study of Laycraft, she emphasize that the development of a child changes over time from early adolescent to late adolescent.

Perceptions on Lowering the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility

The current issue on crime especially to young offenders in the Philippines has taken the government to create many ways and solutions to resolve this. One of these is the proposed Senate Bill No. 2026, the bill that seeks to lower minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15-9 years old.

Moreover, Senate President Sotto III proposes the bill lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility when acting with discernment, like most of the countries worldwide. Senator Sotto stated that, “Even during the time of President Manuel Quezon, nine years old is already the age of criminal responsibility when acting with discernment, is it okay for thirteen years old to kill or rape someone? Tell that to the parents of the victim”. The Duterte administration promised to punish and hunt down the criminals in his war on drugs campaign. Suddenly upon the ongoing campaign he noticed that there are numbers of children who were involved in a various crimes linked to drugs. Drug syndicates used children as drug runners because they are not punishable by the law. Due to increasing rate of child offenders, President Rodrigo Duterte wants the law to be passed; he pointed out that “Children must be taught to understand responsibility”.

In addition, many other politicians who support this amendment, they justify it parallelizing with other countries that have a low criminal age. Several federal states in America operate on the common law age of 7. The United Kingdom and Indonesia prosecute criminally from the age of 8 while Australia states and territories lower the minimum criminal age to10 years old. The age of the criminal responsibility is the age at which a child is considered by law to understood that there were wrong and can face criminal charges. Some say it is the act and the gravity not the age of the perpetrator.

Similar to that, in the study of Lumintao and Butalid they found out that the bill was beneficial for child offenders. The respondents of their study believed that it is a vehicle to promote peace, enhance public safety; this could prevent children from committing crimes as well as prevent children with previous case of crime from reoffending. And this could alleviate poverty in the country. Besides they believed that the child in conflict with the law should be imprisoned because they doing criminal actions and it is good for the parents so that they will take care of their children and become a responsible parent.

On the other hand, UNICEF, social workers psychologists, human rights advocates and other lawmakers to name a few, strongly oppose to the lowering of minimum age of criminal responsibility. Senator Risa Hontiveros is one of the few lawmakers who opposed to the reform. She insists that punitive measures are not the best way to keep away children from crime. The senator proposes the implementation of the existing law properly; Juvenile Justice Welfare Act of 2006 where it focuses on the rehabilitation and special treatment for delinquent minors.

Similarly, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian stated that, lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility was not the most effective solution to curb the criminality, the focus should be rehabilitating the child in conflict with the law; the children must be in schools not in jails. Even Senator Sonny Anggara finds that the nine years old children are too young to face criminal liability. “The nine years old child do not belong in jail”, Anggara said. Also, Senator Nancy Binay strongly opposed the approved bill in the house, she said “As a mother of a nine years old twin I know that, at that age they are still unable to differentiate between right or wrong.

Correspondingly, according to the study conducted by Leny Morano and colleagues, in Naga City the parents disagree with lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility as they believe that our country is not yet prepared in terms of implementation, infrastructure and management. They believe that it can increase the crime rate in our society if not implemented properly. And for them, the government should allocate more budgets for the overall implementation. If the child in conflict with the law is detained, they will be exposed to serious illegal activities, in which it can encourage them to be rebellious and defiant.

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To conclude, the above readings and literature stressed out the different perceptions on Senate Bill No. 2026 that seeks to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility. The issue on this crisis is very debatable. Clearly, both sides expressed their reasons for taking their respective stance.

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Debate on Lowering the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility. (2023, April 17). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 28, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/debate-on-lowering-the-minimum-age-of-criminal-responsibility/
“Debate on Lowering the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility.” GradesFixer, 17 Apr. 2023, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/debate-on-lowering-the-minimum-age-of-criminal-responsibility/
Debate on Lowering the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/debate-on-lowering-the-minimum-age-of-criminal-responsibility/> [Accessed 28 Feb. 2024].
Debate on Lowering the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2023 Apr 17 [cited 2024 Feb 28]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/debate-on-lowering-the-minimum-age-of-criminal-responsibility/
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