How to Successfully Write a Persuasive Paper: The Rhetorical Devices

If you thought being sent to the corner was bad wait until you hear the harsh punishments children are being put through. In the New York Times article, How to Reduce Crime: Stop Charging Children as Adults by Vincent Schiraldi, the author argues that all states should raise the Family Court jurisdiction age to 18. Schiraldi’s article gives the reader a lot of powerful emotional appeal but lacks on both facts and credibility.

Vincent Shiraldi

Schiraldi starts off his article by going straight to the problem; he has a very aggravating tone. He goes on to say how Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has proposed raising the state’s Family Court jurisdiction for the second time in a row and if the proposal fails, then children as young as 13 could be prosecuted as adults.

Throughout his article, Schiraldi provides his readers with very few facts and statistics on why they should raise the Family Court jurisdiction age to 18. He expresses that states such as Connecticut and Illinois have both seen declining numbers of incarceration in both children and adults since raising the juvenile court jurisdiction. Some of the statists he gives are, “when Connecticut raised its family court age limit, research found that 16-year-olds tried in family court were being rearrested at a rate almost 39 percent lower than youths their same age who had been previously tried as adults. … The population of Illinois’ juvenile institutions has declined by 43 percent since the reforms began.” Although the statistics Schiraldi included are few, they are very powerful. The numbers he reports are quite large. The only problem is that he gives no evidence of where these facts came from.

Although his facts are astonishing, his credibility and appeal to ethos need serious help. The only source he gave was one sentence mentioning the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission. He gives very minimal data, yet he fails to mention where he gets his information from. The author uses phrases such as ‘ research found that…’ and ‘ a wave of new research has shown that’ to quickly transition the reader to the facts and not focus on where the facts are coming from. Besides mentioning the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission as a way of gaining credibility, another thing that adds credibility to Schiraldi’s article is his reputation. Vincent Schirald is a “ senior fellow at the Kennedy School Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management at Harvard”. Just hearing the word Harvard makes him credible.

Schiraldi best rhetorical appeal is the appeal to emotion. Schiraldi argues that children who are charged as adults are “more prone to suicide, more likely to be sexually assaulted , and less likely to succeed once they leave.” This statement appeals to emotion because we are talking about this horrible things happening to 13–17 year olds. It is saddening to see a child go through this situation just because messed up. He then goes on to say how adult prisons are already lacking rehabilitation and counseling programs compared to juvenile facilities. This shows compassion and how even though the child did something wrong they can still make a good life for themselves through counseling programs.

He continuous his argument by saying that the brain of a child functions different than that of an adult. The author states that ‘ young people are developmentally different from adults in impulsivity, future orientation, susceptibility to peer pressure and risk-taking, especially if they has suffered a traumatic brain injury’. This statement appeals to our emotions because we can sympathized to what is happening to the children. For example, we at some point in our lives have most likely been a witness off someone being peer pressured to do something they wouldn’t normally do or we have heard stories on the news of the consequences of giving in into peer pressure.

To further expand on the emotional appeal the author uses pathos in a real life scenario he provides the reader with. The incident happened in Brownsville, Brooklyn where five boys were falsely accused and arrested of raping a girl at a playground. After being found innocent the boys were released but the damaged to their image is now haunting them. Because the children were charged as adults, there names were giving to the public making them prone to being prejudge by family members, co workers, and friend because of this incident.

Although Schirald’s persona has Harvard in it, that doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t add more sources to further strengthen his argument.

Works Cited

Schiraldi, Vincent. “How to Reduce Crime: Stop Charging Children as Adults.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 25 Feb. 2016. Web. 10 Mar. 2016.

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