Quite on the contrary, one can also contend that the whole life of an individual is a learning process, thereby advancing the idea that all the while juveniles and adults are under the same of umbrella of a seemingly infinite extension of the whole learning process. Development, in particular, appears to be an unending process or, at least, a process where the ‘end’ is uncertain.
With this in mind, claiming that juveniles have ‘undeveloped’ cognitive and moral senses brings problems more than answers to the debate of the contention between the rights of juveniles and the rights of parents in the court process. Yet isn’t it a fact that even adults who are expected to have a better grasp of morality and of the law are more prone to committing actions which are legally prohibited?
This leads us to the idea that while juveniles may be swayed towards committing certain crimes, adults commit crimes for far more serious reasons which the juvenile may have not have even thought of in the first place. While juveniles may simply be ‘swayed’ into committing illegal actions due perhaps to their ‘undeveloped’ sense of cognition and morality assuming such argument to be true, adults manifest a more rigid stance towards their actions. That is, one can find adults to be hardly ‘swayed’ nor can their cognition appear to be easily altered by mere childish thought.
The contention that adults usually commit the worst-off crimes sends the idea that, quite on the contrary, juveniles may in fact have the firmer sense of cognition and morality. Similarly, even if “18-year-olds are still undergoing cognitive development,” the measures of their intelligence “relate to a number of different other behaviors (Sidanius, 1986, p. 149). ” These behaviors should not be confined to aspects such as those relevant to the various learning institutions such as schools but to the broader society as well.
These aspects should include, for the most part, the behaviors of juveniles when confronting decisions and dealing with them by arriving at a decision extracted from the cognition of the juvenile. Apart from the simple instances wherein a juvenile is prompted to make a decision, the juvenile court process, or the instance wherein a juvenile appears to be required to make a certain decision in the face of legal charges, is clearly one of the many complex instances that illustrate the point where a juvenile has the capacity to make decision based on the cognition of the juvenile.
While it can be maintained that a juvenile lacks experience and that the parents should have the greater hold and responsibility of making the decision as required by the juvenile courts, it is nevertheless the case that juveniles have the capacity to exhibit a similar capacity—the capacity to create reasoned decisions based on the cognitive capacity of the juvenile. Innocence versus adulthood
Elizabeth Wolgast (1993) observes that innocence, apart from every existing moral conditions, is “the best and most desirable” because it amounts to the “complete absence of error and regret” as well as the corresponding “anxieties” attached to committing error and regret. As innocence is commonly attributed to children, one can extend the view of innocence as a ticket towards upholding the ability of the juvenile to create reasoned decisions. Conversely, adults such as parents may no longer the same innocence that their childhood has once given them.
Although parents may have the upper hand in terms of experience, the innocence of juveniles should all the more serve as one basis for establishing the presumption that juveniles have the capacity to create decisions for several reasons. For one, since juvenile innocence corresponds to the “complete absence of error and regret” and its corresponding “anxieties” (Wolgast, 1993, p. 297), the decisions of juveniles may less be based on the anxieties that adults may perceive.
The decisions of juveniles are seen as decisions based upon their cognition—cognition presumed to be founded on innocence, the “complete absence of error and regret (Wolgast, 1993, p. 297). ” Further, Hastings Hart mentions in his 1910 article Distinctive Features of the Juvenile Court that in the juvenile court back then “the jury finds no verdict as to the innocence or guilt of the child” but merely determines whether the child is “delinquent or dependent” as the end of its duties (Hart, 1910, p.58).
As deciding the delinquency or dependency of the child remains the function of the juvenile court, the court decision is, for the most part, founded on the status of the child. In order for the court to determine the status of the child, statements from the parents of the child would be determined. These parental statements, on the other hand, are more likely to be based on how they see the child as an individual.