The age of criminal responsibility is the age at which a person can be charged with and tried for a crime. It varies between different states and countries; in North Carolina it is 6, it is 7 in most states in the USA, 10 in the UK, and as high as 18 in Belgium1. This motion is suggesting that the age should be at the upper end of this range, perhaps as high as 18; ultimately, this is a decision for the exact motion or the Proposition team. This debate is written as though the motion were "This House Would Raise the Age of Criminal Responsibility to 16", but the arguments apply to other ages as well.
The UN says that the age of criminal responsibility "shall not be fixed at too low an age level, bearing in mind the facts of emotional, mental and intellectual maturity." This debate is therefore about whether a person of a certain age has the intellectual and emotional maturity to firstly, understand that their actions are wrong, and secondly, understand and participate in the trial process such that a fair verdict is reached.
1 UNICEF, "Old Enough to Be a Criminal", 1997,
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