The recently launched ‘Make It 16’ campaign – aimed at lowering the voting age in New Zealand to 16 – has support from Children’s Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft.
Becroft said lowering the voting age would enhance turnout, ingrain the habit of voting and uphold young people’s rights.
If this be so, why stop at 16?
“Children and young people have the right to have their voices heard and taken into account.”
This suggests there should be no age limit.
He further says:
“We grey-haired old men and women need to know the world’s a changing place.”
“Young people are much more alive to the issues. They are much more schooled-up on the issues.”
The same Andrew Becroft, when he was Principal Youth Court Judge, welcomed legislation mooted in 2007 to raise the minimum age from 17 to 18 for an offender to be dealt with in adult courts. He said this would fulfil international obligations and bring New Zealand into line with other developed countries.
In 2016 Becroft set out “six great reasons 17-year-olds should be included in the youth justice system”.
Among the reasons: It is the best way to change behaviour
“We know that the parts of the brain that control logic and judgement are still developing at 17. A young person’s ability to control impulses and rationally think through consequences is poor.”
So they are too young, at age 17, to be held to account for criminal behaviour in an adult court because they can\t control their impulses or rationally think through the consequences.
But those behavioural shortcomings are not an obstacle to their deciding who should govern the country and make laws.