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Saturday, 13 March 2010

The total depravity of man(kind)

This oft-misunderstood doctrine formulated by John Calvin in his magnum opus “The Institutes of the Christian Religion”, came to my mind this morning as I listened to the Saturday edition of the Radio 4 programme Today.

One item of news was the call by the Children’s Commissioner, Maggie Atkinson, to raise the age of criminal responsibility, in England, from 10 years to 12 years, or perhaps 14 years. This came on the back of the well-reported, and commented-upon case of the re-arrest of Jon Venables on unspecified, but apparently serious, charges (see below). Ms Atkinson is of the opinion that Jon Venables and his co-convicted Robert Thomson should not have been tried, as they were, for the callous murder of toddler Jamie Bulger.

Thankfully, in my opinion, the government have immediately rejected her call – and only a true cynic would suggest that this had anything at all to do with the fact that a General Election is only weeks away!!!

One reason for my thankfulness is that, in the same radio programme, a young man with learning difficulties – one of the most vulnerable groups in our society – was interviewed. He did not always express himself in the most articulate manner, but it was certainly clear that he and his girlfriend were the objects of much verbal abuse, ridicule, and harassment, from children who were as young as ten – and possibly even younger.

Of course, the real problem with children of this age group is the apparent lack of parental control – or even, in many cases, interest! Perhaps if parents were to be held fully responsible for their own children up until they reach the minimum school-leaving age, we could allow the age of criminal responsibility to be raised somewhat. Until then, I believe that the Scottish Government is making a mistake with its moves to raise the age to twelve, and that the rest of the U.K. would be ill-advised to make the same change.

The Biblical teaching: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Prov.22:6) still has much to commend it!

1 comment:

CannuckCol said...

As well as a lack of parental control, the lack of a father figure and thus the extra, sometimes self inflicted, stress on the lone parent can also be one of the reasons we have 'problem children'. If you are old enough to do the crime, you are old enough to do the time.