Being a minor no excuse for flouting the law

The argument that teenagers should not be treated like adults in legal matters should be balanced against the notion that every citizen has the right to live without being harassed, intimidated, assaulted or insulted ("It's true, teens can't be punished like adults"; July 18).

Neuroscience has found that the teenage brain, even in older adolescents, has yet to attain the kind of full maturity seen in adults.

Yet, it would be an insult to common sense to presume that a teen who is capable of planning and executing an act that violates someone else's rights, then invokes neuroscience to defend himself, is unaware that he is doing wrong.

The fact that the age of criminal responsibility in many advanced countries hovers at around 10 years is evidence that minors are expected to know right from wrong. Behavioural immaturity is not a licence to offend others or damage others' property.

Therefore, while I appreciate that minors are not in the same position as adults, the notion that the law should not treat teens as if they were adults needs further deliberation.

S. Ratnakumar

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2015, with the headline 'Being a minor no excuse for flouting the law'. Print Edition | Subscribe