CRIMINAL intent, they say, only starts at 14 years old. According to the law your child, sibling or friend is a perfect little angel - up until the eve of their 14th birthday.
Traditionally, the dawning of reason apparently happens somewhere around the age of seven, and that's when criminal thoughts start lurking about in the grey area, until about 14.
But come year 14, all of the greyness would have disappeared.
It seems at midnight, the Fairy of Criminal Intent visits each teenager and bestows upon him (or her) this curse. I imagine the child would have that light bulb moment, and many things in the world become clear as day.
Any less than savoury behaviour before that fateful night, though, will be construed as plain old mischief. But now, there are actually real consequences to actions.
I can understand where this archaic ruling came from. I don't remember having any criminal intent when I was 14.
The only thing I could possibly be prosecuted for was being a moody teenager. (Those who witnessed it, say it was particularly bad!)
I think they should rethink that entire age of criminal intent thing. It seems the fairy is making her rounds much earlier in life than before these days.
When eight-year-old girls and boys play sex games with each other, (after doing their spelling homework first, of course), I'm pretty sure they know exactly what they are doing. When seven-year-old boys hack each other to death with axes because of a few Rand, and say they would do it again, surely they meant it? When six-year-olds beat each other in the face with metal pipes, I'm quite sure they mean that too.
Children are not the innocents they used to be. And parents need to recognise this. Some of them are entirely vindictive, spiteful and, I think, overflowing with criminal intent.
One has to wonder about the state of our nation when school children carry knives and pangas to school. Somehow, I doubt they're using those things for art classes or woodwork.
What's truly bizarre about the situation is while children are becoming more adult a lot sooner, the powers that be want to extend the age of culpability.
They seem to think the age of reasoning should be shifted to 10 years old.
I suppose these people do not have access to newspapers. If they did, they would know several 10-year-olds are hooked on tik, belong to a gang, have had sexual experiences and have severely assaulted or even murdered someone already.
All I can say is, lock up your brood and throw away the key... or at least teach them from day one to mind their Ps and Qs, always floss after dinner, and not to assault or murder their friends.