UP 400%: Bundy's growing number of 10-year-old law breakers
A PROMINENT Bundaberg lawyer has backed calls for the criminal responsibility age to be raised to 14 despite a 400 per cent jump in 10 year olds committing crime since 2014.
The Queensland Police Service has released figures to the NewsMail which show last year 25 criminal offences were committed by 10 year olds in the Bundaberg Regional Council area.
This compares to just six in 2014.
Alarmingly, the figures also show teenagers aged 13 committed 104 offences and 14 more than 210 in 2018.
The NewsMail sought the region's youth crime statistics after a call from the Australian Medical Association in March to raise the criminal responsibility age from 10 to 14.
The current age means a 10 year old can be charged, prosecuted and imprisoned.
NewsMail columnist and Charltons Lawyers partner Edwina Rowan said she believed the age of responsibility was too low.
"I have some concerns about criminal responsibility being at such a young age," Ms Rowan said.
"I think young children have difficulties understanding the implications of their actions.
"I think also young children haven't always developed the maturity to understand the impact of their actions on other people or society."
Ms Rowan said the age should sit at 14 or 15 should it be increased.
"I think children in their teens, potentially around that 14 or 15, could understand the implications of their actions and do have the maturity to understand that their actions could have an impact on other people," she said.
"I think it is a very high number for the Bundaberg region and it's actually quite disappointing that we would have that many children who are coming before the court.
"Part of the problem I see in the Bundaberg area is we do have some problems with drug use and that then means we have some children who are potentially being exposed to adult behaviours they may not otherwise be exposed to and children being exposed to anti-social behaviours, which is disappointing."
In March, AMA president Dr Tony Bartone said raising the age of criminal responsibility would prevent the unnecessary criminalisation of vulnerable children.
"Australia has one of the lowest ages of criminal responsibility in the world," he said.
"Most children in prison come from backgrounds that are disadvantaged. These children often experience violence, abuse, disability, homelessness, and drug or alcohol misuse.
"Criminalising the behaviour of young and vulnerable children creates a vicious cycle of disadvantage and forces children to become entrenched in the criminal justice system. "Children who are forced into contact with the criminal justice system at a young age are ... more likely to die an early death."