While we may struggle with delivering and exacting justice here in the adult world, it seems that children as young as 3 have the concept down pat. In a new study published in the journal Current Biology researchers from Germany are finding that
toddlers are not only surprisingly empathetic, but that concepts like restorative justice may come intuitively to them.
When examining children between the ages of three and five, researchers found their subjects focused strongly on carrying out justice and punishment for those who “deserved” it. Not only did the children prefer to give missing items back to rightful owners, but if returning the item was not an option, the participants would protect the item, and ensure another party would not take what did not belong to them.
Even more interesting was the fact children of this age were just as willing to respond to the needs of another individual — even if that individual was a puppet — as they were to their own. Researchers believe these findings may give us insight into the core of justice in relation to human nature.