Are children responsible for their actions?

by Matthew Pellicer on September 4, 2013 - 11:08am

Lee Bonneau, a 6 year old kid, was killed on August 21st. The only suspect is another kid under 12 years of age.

Under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the one and only suspect cannot be charged because of his age. On the other hand, anyone over 12 years old would have been immediately arrested charged and had a court date by now. There have been very few cases where children have killed children in the past so it is very uncertain on what should be done. The suspect was under the care of Social Services and went on to the First Nation Reserve with his foster mother who was going to play bingo that night. The suspect was seen walking into the forest with Lee Bonneau and 20 minutes later Lee Bonneau was found assaulted and later on died in the hospital.

This situation raises a very important question. Should children under the age of 12 be charged and prosecuted for their actions? Right now the suspect is under 24-hour supervision to avoid another incident like this one from occurring. Is this enough? Is the kid really responsible for what he did or is he just a kid who doesn’t know better? We always see the innocence in kids but could they not all be as innocent as we think? It has happened in many occasions with firearms that kids have killed other kids on purpose or by accident. There was also a case where two 10-year-olds kidnapped a two-year-old and beat the kid to death and were convicted with murder and spent eight years in youth custody. Is this what should happen with Lee Bonneau’s killer?


After reading your blog, and article you've read, it is logical that Lee bonneau was not sent to a youth custody for the moment because he is still not 100% guilty to the RCMP, he is the number one suspect and the last one seen with the victim but they need all the evidence to act on his case. I'm sure that once this is done they might consider sending Lee to a youth custody outside Saskatchewan due to the fact they don't have any for child under 12 years of age in that region. And to answer to your question Lee bonneau should be sent to a 12 and under youth custody but under the age of 12 years old, science has proven that kids cannot think of the consequences of their acts therefore you cannot charge a kid with first degree murder... What you can do is send him to youth custody like they did to the two 10 year olds you mentioned. And this case makes me think of a particular case I've read before of a young 10 year old Mexican kid shooting his father to death, The young individual was pledged non guilty because justice was able to prove that the kid was too young to understand the consequences of his acts. (Link to the young ten year old Mexican kid killing his father) It is sad to see things like this happen in our society but we cannot treat and prosecute young kids under 12 years of age the same way we do to adults. Kids brains aren't developed like an adults and they don't think the same. The best is to help the kid grow up and learn from what we can say a big mistake ! through youth custody.

My first reaction when I heard this type of stories, with a child who killed, is to be chocked. First of all, I can’t imagine a child, who is supposed to play with Barbies and balloon, kill someone with no regrets.

I read an article about the different types of kids who killed, and what are their motivations. I find it weird that there were so many sordid stories about murders committed by children. There were children who kill within a family because they are abuse or they feel pressured by demands…For example, a China kid stabbed his father 37 times, his mother 72, and his grand-mother 56 times because her mother asked him to go back to bed. He was only fourteen!

And what should we do with all those kids? Honestly, I don’t know. I am divided between having no mercy and believe they can change with age. Maybe we should put them in special centers with psychologist and a doctor by reason of mental illnesses. They are definitely not themselves… There is something wrong with them because I know the children play outside with their friends and they fight may be a little to see who will be the princess and the dragon.

Article about the murders done by children:

The age is definitely a crucial aspect to this topic. For an individual to make an autonomous decision he must meet 3 competencies. Independence, competency and authenticity conditions. The only way for an individual to fully be held responsible for his actions he must meet the standard of these requirements. This means he must be free of external constraints and internal compulsion, capable of reflecting thoughtfully upon his decision and lastly he must be capable of evaluating his own goals. Now, if the accused child is indeed responsible for the death of Lee, I believe the first condition is met. The other 2 are a little harder to interpret. Was the suspect aware of what he was doing and the consequences it may leave on Lee? And what were his intentions before committing the act? It is hard to tell the goals of young children. I believe once we figure out the last two conditions with respect to the accused, we will then be able to determine his outcome.

c) I consider that it is unethical to charge such a young child even if he has committed a murder because there is no way for a child to truly understand the consequences of his actions. Some prosecutors have a hard time demonstrating that children up to 13 or even 14 years old were aware of the consequences of their actions when they committed the crime that they are charged with, so I strongly believe that a child below 12 years old simply cannot comprehend the seriousness of his act.

Some might say that he has done something that cannot be erased, and I agree, but I still believe that the fact that he is so young means that he can still be guided on the right path.
I would suggest that he undergoes extensive psychological evaluations and spends some time with therapists and counselors in order for him to have all the right resources to try to get back to living a normal life.
I think that this is a much more ethical and reasonable solution considering the fact that the only other alternative would be sending him to live in a youth detention center during his whole childhood. The only effect of him spending his youth there would be getting caught up into the negative attitudes and behaviors that go on in these centers, which would destroy his chances of a normal transition into adulthood.

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