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Old 04 June 2014, 04:21 PM
thorny locust's Avatar
thorny locust thorny locust is offline
Join Date: 27 April 2007
Location: Upstate NY
Posts: 9,915

Originally Posted by Sue Bee View Post
l I don't believe that these girls can possibly understand the gravity of their actions. .
Quite possibly not in the sense that an adult can understand it.

However, I think most 12 year olds, and even most children quite a bit younger, are quite capable of understanding that stabbing somebody is wrong and that it is seriously wrong; and that killing, or attempting to kill, somebody is wrong and that it is seriously wrong.

As evidence, I bring the fact that (at least outside of war zones) it's also extraordinarily rare. It's possible, I suppose, that serious attempts at murder by two year olds are rare not due to their ability to understand that it's wrong but only to their physical incapability. However, most twelve year olds, and many younger children, are quite physically capable of stabbing somebody; and almost every house is full of kitchen knives. So if most children were incapable of understanding that the gravity of the action of stabbing someone is much greater than the gravity of, say, not cleaning one's room, or swearing at one's parent, or saying one's homework is done when it isn't, or even cheating on a test or shoplifting: I'd expect there to be a whole lot more stabbings done by children than there are.

-- That doesn't, of course, address the issue of how twelve-year-old murderers or would-be murderers should be treated by society, when it does happen. But to imply that of course they couldn't have been expected to understand that stabbing people is a gravely serious matter because they're only twelve seems to me to be mistaken.
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