From the New York Times (subscription required).
The issue of juvenile death sentencing is not what I wish to discuss here. What I actually want to touch upon is the issue of when we call children adults. From a legal standpoint, I can understand why this has to be defined at a set age in years, but as any adult knows, you don’t just turn 18 and instantly become an adult. This is something that comes with time and experience. Adulthood is a milestone in our social and psychological development. It’s kind of like entering high school, with less peer pressure and more stress from other sources.
As a parent, I am responsible for the growth and development of my children. I watch them grow and change and learn, and I want everything in the world for them. I cannot honestly say that I would support the death penalty where they are concerned. I can’t be objective when it comes to their lives. I just can’t. All I can do is raise them the best way I know how and hope that I have led them down a path that will take them to extraordinary places and long, happy lives. So for me, determining when they become adults is not a matter for the courts to decide. That’s a matter for them to determine at their own pace. It would be nice if we could live in a world where we can honestly, neatly draw the line between adulthood and childhood, but we can’t. So instead, we’re left with the best guess anyone can come up with.
I suppose, that’s all we really do as human beings, take our best guess and pray. Sometimes our best guess is wrong, but what else do we have to go on?