After the killing of twelve-year-old Luise from Freudenberg in North Rhine-Westphalia, psychologists warn against a hasty lowering of the age of criminal liability. A legal decision, for example due to political pressure through petitions or from the general public, could "have fatal consequences for children and young people and thus also for our society as a community," said the professional association of German psychologists on Friday and called for prudence. Such a debate would have to take into account all aspects and relevant experts.
The president of the NRW Chamber of Psychotherapists, Gerd Höhner, rejected calls for a reduction in the age of criminal responsibility. He was absolutely against it: "This is an appeal that has more to do with the demander than with the demand itself. You want to overcome your own helplessness and demand something without thinking about it for a long time," said Höhner of the "Rheinische Post ".
"I don't think it would do any good either. Do we then start building correctional institutions for children?" The debate flared up after the killing of twelve-year-old Luise from Freudenberg in North Rhine-Westphalia. The alleged perpetrators are children themselves at the age of twelve and 13 and are therefore not criminally responsible. Freudenberg's act was an absolute isolated case, said Höhner.
The legal norm of criminal responsibility from the age of 14 has a good reason: "German criminal law requires guilt for punishment." Criminal responsibility implies a moral-ethical maturity. "The child not only needs to know that they are not allowed to do something, but also to be intellectually capable of adopting an external norm for themselves."
Höhner, who has years of experience with criminal children, contradicted the investigators' claim that adults could not understand the motives of the children. The basic emotions like anger and jealousy might well be understood by adults. "It's more a question of how to get into communication with children."
In the Freudenberg case, however, he would be much more concerned with what happened in the communication between the two alleged perpetrators. "Because it doesn't seem to have been a purely affective act." Twelve-year-olds don't usually carry knives. The find and crime scene also speak against a purely affective act. "There seems to have been at least an idea behind the crime," said Höhner.