JD- you are ABSOLUTELY correct. There are people that NEVER learn that there are consequences for their actions. Then one day they are in front of a judge who is telling them what the consequences are- and they look like they have been run over by a truck.
Is that cruel? No. Emotionally painful? Well, DUH! It is supposed to be! As a child you learned not to pick up hot things, because it HURT. As a result, you do not have tissue damage from being burned by hot objects. Those kids are learning that their actions have consequences.
My youngest daughter is in the process of blending families- she is gaining 2 sons- 14 and 17, in addition to the 16 yr old daughter she already has. Heard the 16 yr old talking to the 17 yr old about HIS behavior (he had just been caught where he was not supposed to be, and tried to lie about it) The 16 yr old (Yep- that is the Anarchist-in-training) told him- "You're being stupid. Anything you are thinking about- Mom already tried it when she was your age- and SHE got caught by Grandpa."
What we have here is... failure- to communicate.