Heeding calls for her to speak up on the controversial proposal to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility, Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray opposed the move as she cited her experiences working with the youth.
The beauty queen in an interview said that the government should not focus on lowering the age but instead, find ways on how to prevent young people from committing crime. She said:
“I really feel that it’s important for us to just our focus as to why these children [are] committing those crimes because I worked a lot with children and anyone knows children are not disposed to do that kind of act or to act that way. As a nation, I think we should focus on eradicating these external pressure.”
Gray suggested that a child’s community should be accessible and his parents and the people surrounding him be educated. She believed it is a “better long-term solution” than labeling the child in conflict with the law.
“Once you label a child such… as child in conflict with the law, how are you bringing them up to see themselves or the community to see them?” Gray added.
The 25-year-old beauty queen remarked that children should be given a chance to change because according to her, children “have so much potential.”
“Their hearts are pure. It’s just that sometimes circumstance bears down on them or the people or what they’re faced with bears down on them,” Gray said.
For the children
When the Congress in January 2019 decided to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 12-years old, Filipinos urged Gray to speak on the issue as an advocate for children’s welfare.
Scientific studies also suggest that a person does not reach full cognitive maturity until 25 years old.
It was this advocacy that had led her to win the crown last December.
The controversial legislation, meanwhile, breezed through Congress in swift deliberations but the beauty queen remained mum on the issue. This prompted social media users to ask her to weigh in.
After all, Gray has worked with the youth—particularly the impoverished ones—even before she fully dedicated herself to preparing for the prestigious pageant and supporting its aims.
She was a teacher’s assistant in Young Focus Foundation, a non-profit group that provides free and accessible education to children.
Gray additionally took the initiative to renovate a building at Smokey Mountain through the “Paraiso: The Bright Beginnings Project” so that it could be a school for children.
Moreover, notes on her blog show her eagerness to champion children’s welfare, particularly through education. She wrote:
“The children and younger generations have the potential to be the bearers of light when given means to create opportunities for themselves—mainly through education through which they can eventually complete their studies, find a job and in turn, help support their families.”
Gray also said that she would use the platform of Miss Universe to bring awareness to the children’s welfare.
According to their website, the beauty pageant’s mission is “to provide the tools which help women to be their personal best.”
It cited that contestants and titleholders are given the opportunity to “cultivate their personal career goals, advocate for humanitarian issues and be a voice to affect positive change in the world.” — Featured video by Uela Altar-Badayos