Two sides to proposed Youth Justice Act

By Mike Power
Bishops College
St. John's, Newfoundland

The new young offenders act is coming into effect and like many other people I have mixed emotions on it. The act has become harsher on young people.

I agree with the act when in says that violent crimes should not go unpunished no matter how old some one is. That isn't right in every case. Just because someone commits a crime it doesn't mean that they understand the severity of the crime and young offenders don't always understand the consequences of their actions.

Young offenders are not always able to judge what is right from wrong. Even though they are the age of 13-18, do they always know what is right or wrong? A kid finds out what is right or wrong from their parents and the environment he or she grows up in. So you can't judge a child for the way he was brought up. It's the parents that should be judged.

That isn't the way everyone thinks. They think that a kid should be punished no matter how he or she was brought up. Kids are going through a lot of changes and a lot of things can happen to a kid and are they able to notice the difference between good and bad.

Is it wrong if a kid goes out and steals some food because he or she is hungry and their parents can't afford to feed them?

From the age of 13 to 18, kids go through a lot of strange changes and it is really hard to just do what is right. Kids are put through a lot of peer pressure from their friends and other kids. If a kid is dared to break into an empty house by his other friends, he probably doesn't realize that he can get caught and get in to a lot of trouble. When you're that young, you're not going to back down on a dare because then all of your friends are going to make fun of you and tease you for not doing it.

I have two opinions on this new act. I think its good and bad. Kids are kids but no matter how old you are if you kill or seriously hurt someone you deserve to be punished. We all should be judged under the same law if we kill someone -- we go to jail and that's it.

Young offenders are judged different because they are different. They are younger, less experienced in life situations and can not always understand what they do. The new act seems like it is trying to put everyone under the same law but is that right? Should we do that? Should we just send a kid to jail that really doesn't understand what he or she has done?

I think that at a young offender should be rehabilitated before he or she is sent to jail but if the crime is repeated they should have to do their time. At this age, kids should be given at least on chance before they should go to jail. But if it is a serious crime they should be punished.