Friday, November 20, 2009

If you really want to depress yourself, spend a few days reading comments on articles about a 15 year-old girl charged with murdering a 9 year-old girl.  The state alleges that the suspect dug two graves in anticipation of killing someone.  She allegedly didn't target her victim for anything in particular beyond opportunity.  According to the police, the girl just wanted to know what it felt like to kill someone.  A judge has now ruled she will be tried for 1st degree murder as an adult because the state of Missouri lacks any facilities to handle a juvenile defendant like her. 

Apparently I like to torture myself, because I have been unable to keep myself from finding articles about this story and reading the comments.  Reading how heartless, cold-blooded, and vengeful grown adults can be towards an obviously very troubled teenager makes me want to bury myself in my bed and hide in despair.  Numerous commenters are ready to "stick a needle" in her arm (or hang her or put a $.50 bullet in her, etc.) without hearing  or reading anything more than the information available in the first week after the murder.  These folks aren't deterred no matter how many point out that a 15 year-old can't be executed.

One kind-hearted commenter dared to write that it was unfortunate this girl would be placed in an adult facility because she would be used and abused by the adult inmates.  In response, another asked what the problem with that was, with a tone suggesting that the responder was somewhat eagerly anticipating this girl's hellish life at the hands of fellow inmates.  Most posters had no sympathy whatsoever for the suspect, no thought that it's at least a little tragic that someone so young could have her life so horribly, and probably permanently, interrupted.  And they had no interest in trying to get to the root of her problems or trying to fix her.  They're just ready to throw this girl away while calling her vicious names.  And they might not mind getting a good kick, or at least a solid spit, in at her on her way.

It makes me want to cry.  I don't ever want to get to the point of losing hope that any and every troubled child can be reached.  I don't ever want to get to the point of thinking it's not even worth trying.  I admit from the initial reports, if they are to be believed (and we all know we probably shouldn't believe the initial reports, don't we?), sound very troubling.  Maybe there truly are children who are just bad seeds and need to be locked away forever, but that thought is just too depressing to give in to.  I sincerely hope that the people actually handling this girl's case won't be quite so willing just to throw her away, though from the early actions of the prosecution and the judge's ruling on adult certification the signs aren't that good. 


Laci the Chinese Crested said...

It is amazing that people don't really think, but rush to judgment. Little do they realise they could be in the same position.

Actually, if you want to depress yourself, look up Adrienne Jones, the victim in the "Texas Cadet Murder". Despite the fact that Jones was the victim, people trashed a website in her memory.

The ironic thing is if you look back to the time when punishment was harsh in late 18th Century England, juries were loath to sentence. In fact, that part of the reason for Penal Transportation.

Laci the Chinese Crested said...

I was mentioning the English "Bloody Code", where there were 222 crimes in Britain which carried the death penalty by the 1770s!

Katie said...

As far as the belief that no child is truly lost, no matter how disturbed they may be... I absolutely feel for you.

I'm currently working for a national youth mentoring nonprofit, and my focus is working with youth who have a parent incarcerated. The things that some of these kids have seen, sometimes at age five or six, is absolutely harrowing. Many of them have already been involved with gang activity and violent crime, and it's easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer awfulness of it. Why these kids, why so young, why didn't anyone stop and help them before.

But that's why we get up in the morning. Swing your feet down onto the floor and say "I'm going to make their lives better, make the world better for them. I'm going to help them in my own small way." And even if that's just organizing a mentor event or sending out flyers to their parents, it's something. It's making a bright spot in their lives, for one brief moment.

No child is lost. Our society just gives up on them, and that is the real tragedy.

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