“Children starting Grade 7 should think about figuring out a new schedule and meeting new teachers, not being separated from their families and sleeping alone in a concrete cell.”
People have been sharing photos from the age of 13 to raise awareness of Australia’s low age of criminal responsibility.
In November, state and territory attorneys general proposed raising the age from 10 to 12, despite the two-year increase doing a minimum to keep children out of prison. Supporters continue to push for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised to at least 14.
“Many children across the country are going back to school this week. Some of these children will be starting ‘big school‘ – and preparing for their first day of 7th grade,” the advocacy group Raise the Age said in a statement on Monday.
“Imagine if instead of dropping your child off for their first day of high school, you dropped them off for their first day in jail. Instead of trying to make new friends and find a new classroom, they get frisked at naked and assigned to a concrete cell.
Statistics released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare last year revealed that there were nearly 800 children aged 10 and over in juvenile detention on an average night between April and June 2020. Just under half of those detained during this period were Aboriginal or Torres Strait. Islander, although Aboriginal people make up 6% of Australia’s population aged 10-17.
“Kids starting Grade 7 should think about figuring out a new schedule and meeting new teachers, not being separated from their families, and sleeping alone in a concrete cell,” Raise the Age said.
The trending hashtag #MeAt13 is being used to share throwback photos, alongside what people loved doing at that age, to draw attention to the hundreds of kids who will be spending time behind bars instead of a office.
Members of the National Justice Project team at age 13. Let’s be clear, we think 13 is too young to send kids to jail. They belong in the school, not in the prisons. It’s time for Australia to #RaiseTheAge at least 14. #RaiseTheAge #MeAt13 pic.twitter.com/H7AqKhTwrG
— Nat. Justice Project (@NJP_Au) January 30, 2022
It’s me and my two brothers 👇🏿
We are indigenous. Growing up, we were targeted by the police – criminalized. Children – belong in the community with our family and thrive in the culture – not in prison. #RaiseTheAge at least 14 @DjirraVIC @Change_Record #MeAt13 pic.twitter.com/OrWJVmxz1n
— Antoinette Braybrook (@BraybrookA) January 31, 2022
It is #MeAt13 (probably actually 12) when I wanted to be an elf (I had just read lord of the rings, who would have guessed). All children deserve to spend this time imagining, playing and being in the free world. #RaiseTheAge No child should ever be imprisoned, we are better than that. pic.twitter.com/tasdEjVbCG
— PhD-Bee (Phoebe Matich) (@phoebe_matich) January 31, 2022
It is #MeAt13 – Lots of interesting fashion choices and One Direction Facebook posts. A child. Certainly had no place in prison. We must #RaiseTheAge to AT LEAST 14 and keep children out of prison and with their community. https://t.co/kaRnbnCtht@Dom_Perrottet pic.twitter.com/u14eYVtLzK
—Mads Prakash (@mads_sp) January 30, 2022
It is #MeAt13 – hair ribbons to match my school uniform. It is mind-boggling that governments across Australia are locking up children as young as 10 every day. The children belong in the school – not in the prison cells. It’s time to #RaiseTheAge at least 14 years old. @rightsagenda pic.twitter.com/92kr92H8FF
— Monique Hurley (@monique_hurley) January 31, 2022
Photo credit: National Justice Project/Twitter