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During the Ruusan Reformations, the following reforms were enacted:

In order to lessen the chance of a Sith resurgence, the Order began training children from birth. In addition, the training of Padawans was centralized on Coruscant, to remove the danger of unsupervised students delving into forbidden Sith knowledge.

The measures are intended to prevent Force sensitives from learning the ways of the dark side. Setting a cut-off age for inducting untrained Force sensitives into the Jedi Order seems to run counter to the goal here: untrained, unsupervised Force sensitives are believed to be more susceptible to the dark side.

So why the contradiction? It can't be sentient rights, not when you can legally take newborns from their parents.

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    Untrained Jedi aren't capable of very much at all. Note that both Anakin and Luke are pretty good pilots but not much else. It's only when a Jedi (or a Sith) begins their training that they suddenly become not just force-sensitive, but force-using. – Valorum Apr 8 '16 at 12:38
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    To support @Richard's point, take Princess Leia as a example. We are told she has more latent power than Vader and Luke yet many decades into her life that has amounted to almost nothing because she was left untrained. – Lan Apr 8 '16 at 13:09
  • Where does it come from that she has more power? She became a Jedi in the EU but Luke and all three of her children were much stronger than her even after she had been training. – Probst Apr 8 '16 at 14:33
  • Kids are known to be easier to indoctrinate... Older people may have experiences outside of the Order and (shudders) disagree with the Council. – xDaizu Feb 5 '17 at 13:41
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You're missing the second key factor in lessening the potential for the Sith to corrupt untrained Force-sensitive children, the utter destruction of the Sith Order. Without any Sith around and with the diminution of access to Sith-related artifacts (such as holocrons and other Sith training materials) over the centuries, by the time of the Republic it's actually pretty safe to leave a potential Jedi, even one as powerful as Anakin sitting around untrained without fear that they'll turn to the dark side.

Without any formal Jedi/Sith training, Force-sensitives like Luke, Ezra, Leia, Ahsoka and Anakin just come across as uncommonly lucky and possessed of superb reflexes. It's not until their training begins that they suddenly gain a greater insight into the Force and begin to express their powers consciously.

As to why the Jedi want to get to kids as early as possible, the answer is so that they can indoctrinate them into their cult. It's especially notable that late-trained Jedi like Dooku and Anakin represent the downfall of the Jedi order, largely because they have outside interests and a lack of familial connection to the Jedi order.

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