I just wrote this on Facebook:
In the past few centuries, the lot of children has changed dramatically. In the 1800's, during the Industrial Revolution they were often basically full citizens who worked in factories for many hours of the day.
This under-protectiveness of children has in more recent years swung around all the way, to sometimes over-protectiveness, sometimes leading to nonsensical and strict laws and practices designed in theory to protect children but more often being inconvenient for a lot of people, laws like age of consent laws and several laws regarding porn.
Still, at least over-protectiveness of children is way better than under-protectiveness. Hey, over-protectiveness is just annoying, under-protectiveness is dangerous.
Now, instead of giving out all rights and responsibilities at the same time to young children, now we dole out the rights and the responsibilities piecemeal as they get older.
But at the same time, in the US, in one angering, hypocritical, and just fucking nonsensical respect, we still treat children as adults long before they should: youth criminal justice.
In many ways, America is just behind the curve of rich, first world countries, on things like LGBT rights, healthcare, general not-being-insanely-fucking-dumb.
But in our treatment of child criminals, that's one way that we truly lag not just rich countries but every single country on earth, poor ones, dictatorships, etc.
See, I have a theory for why America is so shamefully abusive of child criminals: lawmakers, the people who decide these things, when making laws about things like when to let kids see R rated movies and porn and when to let them drink and vote, they imagine a bunch of adorably naive and incompetent, yet cute, little white kids, still innocent; but when they make laws about how to punish children who break the law, the imagine a bunch of 6'4" black bruiser high school kids who like to beat grandmas for fun.
That's why kids can't watch R-rated movies unsupervised until the age of 17, but in some states can be tried as an adult for crimes as young as 7.
I mean, to illustrate, America is one of a few countries, us and a few dictatorships, to have executed people under 18 since the 70's.
But more than that, America is today the ONLY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD where children can receive the sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
China, a country we consider a dictatorship, does not criminally try anyone younger than 14.
To try to comprehend how fucked up our system is, think about this: in California, as the age of consent law currently stands, two people under 16 who have sex are legally considered to have MUTUALLY RAPED EACH OTHER.
That absolutely nonsensical conclusion can only be reached in our hypocritical system, where people under 16 aren't considered competent enough to give consent to have sex, but they ARE considered competent enough to rape someone and be punished for it.
This fucking shame on our country has led to thousands and thousands of children, some of them of single digit age, some teenagers, being tried as if they were adults, and then being housed in adult prisons with adult criminals, places that studies have shown lead them to much higher risks of abuse, both sexual and physical, higher risks of depression, suicide, and worst of all, more likely to re offend when they get out of prison, because of how they become desensitized and hardened.
Of all our problems in America, this is probably the most pointless, and the most tragic. Children and teenagers that commit crimes aren't given the help they need to become productive citizens, instead they're thrown away, to become hardened and broken criminals.
And it's most tragic of all because the solution is so simple: STOP TRYING CHILDREN AS IF THEY WERE ADULTS, if you consider young children and teenagers competent enough to be criminally responsible as adults, than they must be competent enough to have 12 year old's vote, and 14 year old's drink, and 11 year old's watch porn.
America's attitude towards criminality is probably the most warped and fucked-up in the world. We imprison more people per thousand than any other country on Earth.
It's expensive, cruel to those who get fucked by the law, and most of all, it does not work.
But while the combination of drug policy and ferocious sentencing laws is our biggest financial problem, and probably the one most likely to inspire change, the world-beating-ly shameful and fucked up way we treat juvenile criminals is our biggest moral problem in our criminal justice system, and it can only be solved by changing our nonsensical and hypocritical attitudes towards juvenile delinquency.
Honestly. This country has a whole lot of fucking weird and dumb problems, and yet I feel like it's this one that makes me the saddest and the most ashamed to live here. I just can't believe that healthy, right-thinking adults would come up with this shit, hey, let's pretend children are adults, but only in 1 fucking respect! Hehehehehe... They're like adults, but we don't let them have any of the rights of adulthood, just responsibilities.
Now, if anything is cruel and unusual punishment, this, it's DEFINITELY cruel, and from a global perspective, fucking unusual too. Un-fucking-Constitutional.