There are many ways in which children are not like adults. Aside from the visually obvious differences such as size and weight, there are unseen differences as well. Their brain development significantly lags than of an adult. In fact certain parts of the brain, like the frontal lobes, are not considered to be fully developed until around the age of 25. That particular part of the brain has to do with controlling impulses, making decisions and executive function.
While the lack of completed development of that part of the brain does not stop most adolescents from understanding what is right and wrong, it does make it more likely that they will not think something through before doing it and act on impulse. At times those actions may result in doing something that is not that serious, other times it can be much more serious, perhaps involving violence, and be considered a crime.
Though based on news reports it may seem as though violent crimes, such as murder, committed by children in the United States are on the rise, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention indicates that compared to 1997 when there were 40 cases of criminal homicide committed by individuals under the age of 14, the number dropped by more than 50 percent, to 19, in 2011.
Whether a juvenile faces criminal homicide charges or less serious charges such as underage drinking, it is possible that the child could face serious consequences impacting their lives far into the future. Accordingly, it is important that the parents of children facing any criminal charges take steps to make sure the child is properly defended. In most cases the sooner a criminal defense lawyer is contacted, the better.
Source: Decoded Science, “Why Are Some Children More Prone To Violence? Brain Development and Kids,” Thu Anh Le, Aug. 25, 2014