I read an excellent article in today’s Telegraph by Brian Masters about Jon Venables, one of the two ten year old boys who horrifically murdered James Bulger 17 years ago.
The article explores the reaction to Venables’ return to custody and who has the right to know. It also, perhaps more interestingly explores the reaction of ‘the public’.
Venables and Thomson were tried and convicted in an adult court. They were found guilty and sentenced to a custodial sentence. They were released on parole. No-one has ever denied that the crime they committed was horrific. No-one has ever suggested that they shouldn’t be punished.
What Masters’ suggests is that two 10 year old boys may be as much victims as their own victim. And that seems to be something people don’t want to hear.
When they were convicted a crowd gathered around the police van, banging on the sides. If the van had stopped and opened it’s doors the boys would have been taken out by the adults and killed.
If you read all of Masters’ article and scroll down to the comments you will see that 17 years later there would seem to be a significant number of people who would still volunteer to pull the switch, administer the lethal injection or pull the rope tight.
I don’t believe that children get to a point where they abduct and torture smaller children without influence (or lack of it) from adults. I wonder what my children learn when they see a group of adults calling for the execution of children?
I have children. If one of them was killed I would feel the same way. I would want revenge. I would want to kill whoever did it.
And that’s why it’s right that I should play no part in the administration of justice in a scenario like that.
The bigger question for me is why society, or at least a proportion of it, seems to completely dismiss the chance of rehabilitation, restoration and, dare I say it, forgiveness and why we seem to have reached a point where we see children as ‘evil’ and beyond hope?
What does that say about us as a society? What does it say about forgiveness?