When does childhood end?

Lord Justice MosesAccording to a ruling today by the aptly-named Lord Justice Moses (pictured), childhood now ends a year later than it did yesterday, at age 18. The change in the law essentially governs whether police officers tell mummy or not when (if) you get arrested.

The BBC reports that 75,000 17-year-olds are taken into police custody every year. The law used to say that a 17-year-old should be treated like an adult, but a compelling case led by a young man, Hughes Cousins-Chang, persuaded the legal bigwigs to change their mind.

The official reasoning follows that treating 17-year-olds as adults is a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights, which in turn is informed by the UN Convention on Rights of the Child. (See, the big bureaucracies are useful for something.) But the personal stories behind the high court case are much more interesting.

Hughes Cousins-Chang himself, who is now a sixth-form student in London, was detained for  12 hours by police and strip searched, but his parents were not told. Much more emotive are the stories of Ed Thornber and Joe Lawton, told by their parents. Ed was arrested in 2011 for possessing 50p’s worth of cannabis on holiday in Cornwall. His mother told the Guardian that he was advised by police in Cornwall that he would receive a formal warning when he got back to his home in Manchester. But…

“…On 13 September 2011, he was served with a court summons. When my husband and I came home from work, Ed didn’t tell us anything. The next day, he went out to some woods nearby and hanged himself. He didn’t know the summons had been issued by mistake. We didn’t know anything about it. We have seen a transcript of the police interview [in Cornwall]. Ed was asked if he wanted a solicitor. He wouldn’t know what one was for.”

Joe Lawton has a similarly sad story. He was arrested for drink driving and subsequently killed himself. Both sets of parents told the court that their sons would be alive today if they had been able to help.

The Association of Chief Police Officers agrees with the changes, but the Home Office does not. Rather callously, it estimated that calling in an “appropriate adult” to help where necessary would cost the country about £20m.

Bottom line: a 17-year-old has a right to privacy, just like anyone else, but the goalposts shift if such a right starts to take lives.

2 thoughts on “When does childhood end?

  1. louellen13

    . . . THIS MARVELOUS QUESTION ( WHEN DOES CHILDHOOD END ) CARRIES ME BACK TO MY BIBLE STUDIES ( AS WELL AS ) MY LIFETIME EXPERIENCES ( JESUS WAS TWELVE YEARS OLD ) HE AND HIS FAMILY WERE TRAVELING WITH ( LET US SAY ) A FAMILIAR GROUP OF PEOPLE ( HE AND HIS FAMILY ( DEFINED ) AS HIS FATHER ( A CARPENTER & HIS MOTHER – A PEASANT WOMAN ) – ( WITH JESUS BEING THE LONG AWAITED MESSIAH ) WHO ( APPARENTLY ) WHO HAD COME OF AGE . . . BEFORE THIS SMALL FAMILY & THEIR FAMILIAR GROUP OF TRAVELERS – LEFT ON THEIR DESTINATION ( JESUS HAD WITNESSED BUSINESS ACTIVITIES ) DEEMED AS FINANCIAL TRANSACTIONS – BETWEEN VARIOUS OFFICIALS IN THE TEMPLE ( DEEMED AS THE MONEY CHARGERS ) THE MONEY CHARGERS ( ON A DAILY BASIS ) CAME INTO VARIOUS KINDS OF COINS – AND IT WAS THEIR RESPONSIBILITY TO BE HONEST – IN THEIR FINANCIAL DEALINGS WITH THE PUBLIC ( AS THE CHRIST CHILD WOULD BE LOOKING ON ) HE SAW WRANGLINGS OF SORTS – GOING ON ON TABLE TO TABLE BASIS ( THAT TOLD THIS YOUNG MAN ) THAT THE MONEY CHANGERS WERE NOT HONEST PEOPLE . . . ONCE THIS SMALL FAMILY & THEIR FAMILIAR GROUP OF TRAVELERS WERE ON THEIR WAY ( AND HAD GOTTEN SOME DISTANCE AWAY ) FROM THE TEMPLE & ITS FINANCIAL TRANSACTIONS ( SOMETHING PUZZLED THE YOUNG MAN ) AND APPARENTLY – HE COULD NOT HELP HIMSELF ( AS HE LOOKED FOR JUST THE RIGHT OPPORTUNITY ) TO MAKE AN ESCAPE FROM THE OTHERS & GO BACK FROM WHENCE HE CAME ( THE TEMPLE & ALL OF ITS DISHONESTY ) ONCE HE HAD ARRIVED BACK IN THIS UNSAVORY ENVIRON – JESUS WAS DETERMINED TO DO SOMETHING ( BUT WHAT ) WITH HIM BEING SO YOUNG & SMALL IN SIZE ( AND A CHILD OF TWELVE – YET ) AFTER SOME THOUGHT – HIS SENSES TOLD HIM THAT HE COULD DO SOMETHING ( LESS HE DID NOTHING ) IN MY MINDS EYE – YOURS TRULY CAN SEE THIS YOUNG FELLA REACHING FOR THE LEGS OF THE TABLES ( WHICH WAS COVERS WITH VARIOUS KINDS OF COINS ) THE MAIN COURSE OF THE BUSINESS TRANSACTIONS ( AND WITH THE STRENGTH OF A TWELVE YEAR OLD ) HE GOES FROM TABLE TO TABLE ( REACHING – GRABBING & UP TURNING ) AS EACH TABLE WAS TURNED UP SIDE DOWN ( CANT YOU SEE THE COINS ) ROLLING ALL OVER & INTO EVERY POSSIBLE DIRECTION – AS THIS YOUNG FELLA IS FOUND GOING ABOUT HIS FATHERS BUSINESS . . . MEAN WHILE ( ONE OF HIS PARENTS NOTICES ) THAT JESUS IS MISSING ( PERHAPS – IT WAS HIS MOTHER ) CAN SEE HER IN MY MINDS EYE – AS SHE GOES ABOUT SEARCHING FOR HIM ( WITH THE DISTANCE OF SEARCHING ) BECOMING OUT STRETCHED & AMONG THEIR GROUP OF FAMILIAR TRAVELERS ( HE WAS NOWHERE TO BE FOUND ) AND SO – EVERYONE HAD TO TURN AROUND & BACK TRACK THEMSELVES – ALL OF THEIR SEARCH EFFORTS LED THE WHOLE GROUP BACK ( TO THE TEMPLE – ITSELF ) AND THERE ( JESUS WAS FOUND ) TO THE SURPRISE OF THEM ALL ( AND HE WAS BUSY ) HIS PURPOSE FOR BEING ON EARTH – WAS IN PROGRESS . . . MANKIND THE WORLD OVER ( EVEN TO THIS DAY ) HAS PLACED THE AGE OF TWELVE – AS THE END OF CHILDHOOD – AS IT WERE . . .

    Reply
  2. louellen13

    . . . THE BIOLOGICAL ( AS TO – WHEN DOES CHILDHOOD END ) CHILDHOOD ENDS ( WITH THE ONSET OF PUBERTY ) WE THEN – START CALLING THE YOUNGSTER ( AN ADOLESCENT ) JUST ABOUT THE TIME OVERT SIGNS STARTS TO APPEAR – WHICH IS AN INDIVIDUAL THING ( AND/OR ) ARE OBSERVED BY THE ONLOOKERS – IN THE LIFE OF THE CHILD ( VOICES CHANGE / BREAST APPEAR / MANNERISMS CHANGE / INTERESTS ARE AVERTED / INTERESTS IN PEER DRESS CODES / THE PRETEEN THROWS ITS WEIGHT AROUND / MEMBERS DEEMED AS PEERS GET IN THE ACT / ETC ) WHICH IS ABOUT THE TIME THAT THE CHILD REACHES THE AGE OF TWELVE & THIRTEEN . . . ONCE OVERT SIGNS START TO SHOW UP – THIS IS WHEN THE POSITIVE ( MALES/FEMALES ) INTERESTS IN ( THE CHILD TURN ADOLESCENTS ) LIFE – STARTS TO GIVING THIS NEWLY ARRIVED INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITIES ( ABOUT THE AGE OF TWELVE ) AND ITS THE ONSET OF ASSISTING THIS YOUNGSTER WITH DAILY CHORES & ACCOUNT ABILITIES ( YOU WERE SUPPOSE TO BE AT HOME BY FOUR OCLOCK ) – ( YOU FORGOT TO MAKE YOU BED THIS MORNING ) – ( ITS YOUR CLOSET – IT LOOKED SO MUCH BETTER TODAY ) – ( HURRY – ITS HOMEWORK TIME ) – ( YOUNG LADY – ITS YOUR TERN TO WASH DISHES ) MUCH WORK HAS TO BE DONE – TO STRUCTURE THE CHILD FOR FUTURE GROWTH & DEVELOPMENT ( BUT THATS OK ) BECAUSE YOUR TIME IS YOUR CHILDS TIME – AS IT WERE . . .

    Reply

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