MercyCare / News / Rosina Smith: Why I support the Raise the Age campaign

Rosina Smith: Why I support the Raise the Age campaign

“When I was 12, I wanted to be a school teacher.

Growing up in New Zealand, I remember how I used to roleplay being a teacher with my siblings, as I loved the idea of being a role model and positively influencing   children’s lives.

One of my most vivid memories was when I hosted an exchange student from Australia and I was fascinated by her stories and where she lived, it all sounded amazing.

Little did I know I was only a year or two away from moving to Australia myself. I enjoyed learning Japanese and the Maori language at Junior High and particularly enjoyed art and home economics.

I was very independent and often at the park with friends and my younger siblings until the streetlights come on.  

Rosina Smith at age 12

When I was 12, I could never imagine going to prison, in fact at that age I’d never even seen a prison.

At 10 or 12 years old, you are still developing rapidly. With so many hormones and changes happening at that age, I don’t think at 10 or 12 you are mature or cognitively developed enough to understand how to regulate your behaviour or know how to make the “right” decisions when faced with peer pressure to really understand the possible consequences of your actions.

A 12-year-old prefrontal cortex is still maturing, which means they are still likely to react and behave impulsively.

Children at 12 are just starting to be independent, make decisions or choices without the influence of their parents and developing their own identity.

As a mum, I can’t imagine my own children put behind bars at the age of 12.

Because at this age, children are at a very impressionable time of their life and they need guidance, support and a safe space to make mistakes and learn from them without harsh consequences, and without being labelled a criminal and sent away.  

This is why the Raise the Age campaign hits so close to home for me, and I want to be part of the wheels of change to set things right for these young people.”

To read more about the Raise the Age WA campaign, click here.