CHILDREN AND CRIME : A boy's view of right and wrong

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The Independent Online
BBC Radio 4's File on Four interviewed Boy C earlier this year to see if he knew it was wrong to damage a moped:

Questioner: "Do you have an idea in your mind of what is right and wrong?"

C: "Yeah."

Q: "What is right and wrong?"

C: "Robbing cars is wrong."

Q: "Why is it wrong?"

C: "It's taking somebody else's things."

Q: "When you were 12, there was this incident, did you know what was right and wrong?"

C: "Yeah, and I never done nothing wrong. I was right. I was only looking. They (the police) said I had a crowbar. I never had a crowbar. They was telling lies through their teeth."

Q: "If you had been stealing or had been trying to take that motorbike would you have known that was wrong?"

C: "Yeah, of course."

Q: "How would you have known that?"

C: "I'm not stupid."

Q: "When do you think you learned what was right and wrong?"

C: "In the infants, when I was younger."

Q: "Do you think most young people of 12 would know right and wrong?"

C: "I don't know. Some are thick. Some don't know the difference."

Q: "Who taught you what's right and wrong?"

A: "My mum and dad, school, my nan, grandad."

Police told the BBC that Boy C had been offending since he was nine. By 12, as part of a gang taking vehicles and stealing from shops, he had committed at least 20 offences of theft. Since 1992 he had continued to offend.

Boy C was again asked why he had offended when he knew it was wrong.

C: "Dunno. Because everybody else was doing it. It's when you're there with all your mates and that, they're doing it, you do it."

Q: "Do you regret it now?"

C: "Yeah, going to court and all that."