For They Know Not What They Do?

When and how do children know right from wrong? And how can we devise a punishment to fit their crimes?

When I was about seven, I stole a box of green Tic-Tacs from the grocery store. I was a stupid little thief: my mom heard them ticking and tacking in my pocket as I helped carry the Cheerios inside. She promptly drove me back to the store, where I had to present the candies and an apology to the manager. Later, my father shared some words of wisdom (which I don't recall) and some hard licks from the Big Black Belt (which I do).

Did I know right from wrong? Had I reached some "age of reason"? I don't know. As...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!