“I don’t want to go to jail, I don’t want to go to jail,” cried the young offender on being told the police were on their way. No chance of that; he was only 8 years old.

He was noticed by two newspapermen driving to work in New Zealand’s capital city at 5am on Monday morning, reports the NZ Herald. At first they thought it was a drunken driver weaving his way dangerously along the street, but when he turned a corner they were shocked to see a young boy in pyjamas, hunched over the steering wheel and almost standing on the pedals. The vehicle was a 4WD Range Rover.

The men cornered him in a carpark and the child’s first words were, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I just want to go home.” He thought he could drive himself back there! That wasn’t so smart, but the reporter was surprised by the boy’s intelligence — not only knowing how to drive but knowing that it was wrong and there would be consequences.

Question: can a kid be expected to know by the age of eight that it is wrong to take your parents’ vehicle for a drive downtown? Seems to me, yes. After all, seven is supposed to be the age of reason.

We don’t know how he learned to drive (more or less) but I seem to remember that this sort of thing has happened before. Children spend a lot of time in cars, after all, and boys are very likely to be watching the driver with a view to becoming one themselves asap. Then there are videogames that put kids in the driver’s seat. Still, they have eyes to see that children do not drive cars; and parents who tell them, “Not until you are 16.”

I don’t find it surprising that the youngster knew he “done wrong”.

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet