A bad judgment

August 9, 2012

The National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children has a series of useful guidelines relating to the age of consent, criminal responsibility and the like. It stresses the importance of listening to the wishes of the child. However, it goes on to say, "the authorities have a duty to act in the best interests of the child, which may mean contradicting their wishes."

If only such advice had been heeded in the distressing case of the 10-year-old girl who has been given not just permission but encouragement by a judge to undertake baptism classes "as soon as possible", so that she may convert from Judaism to Christianity.

Surely no-one could reasonably believe that such a life-changing decision is in the best interests of a 10-year-old, who, however mature she may be, cannot possibly understand the implications of her current desire to change religion, against the wishes of her mother and all four of her grandparents. Judaism does not recognise a 10-year-old as possessing the necessary wisdom to make adult decisions. The courts should follow suit.

Last updated: 5:45pm, August 9 2012