It is difficult to comprehend why some children go so off course, committing felonies before they’ve even grown pubic hair. While some children seem predestined to become bad seeds, perhaps they were born with a mental illness woefully misunderstood by our society. If an adult shows odd and destructive behavior, we isolate them or get authorities involved. If a child shows disturbing behavior, we isolate them or blame their parents. Problem is, when you isolate a child, they never learn appropriate behavior or get the proper therapy they might need to prevent potentially fatal tragedies from happening.
The question as to why children commit capital offenses (when committed by an adult) is complex. While I believe that some children are simply born ‘evil’, too many are turned evil by abuse and neglect and still others may simply commit these acts unintentionally, believing violent acts are that of TV-land or video games. They may lack the maturity or self awareness to internalize the consequences and reality.
Yet, what do you do with a child who is a danger to society?
At what age does a child become responsible for their own actions and what age can a child be rehabilitated? And, does that rehabilitation become increasingly difficult when you sentence a young child to do hard time among adults? What chance does a child have who is locked away, under the influence and environment of other violent criminals?
Over the past few years, some of the more notorious children who have been caught up in the legal system’s determination of whether they should be tried as adults or children include 13-year-old Crystian River, a Oklahoma boy who shook his 9-month-old baby sister to death after she started crying while he was playing the ‘Call of Duty’ video game. Prosecutors wanted him tried as an adult, which could have lead to life in prison. In this case a social worker and psychologist testified to their belief that the boy could be rehabilitated. The boy has never been in trouble before and the Judge decided in favor of trying him as a youth, which would likely require extensive treatment until he’s 18. Prosecutors are considering appealing the decision. They want him tried as an adult.
Another case, from 2009, involved an 11-year-old boy, Jordan Brown, who shot his father’s pregnant girlfriend, Kenzie Houk, in the head. Houk and her unborn child died. The case sends shivers up your spine. The boy apparently shot the woman while she slept, then the boy took his 7-year-old sister to school and dropped the gun shell (evidence) in the woods on the way to school, suggesting he tried to cover up the crime. He left his 4-year-old sister alone with the dead body. Prosecutors worked hard to try this boy as an adult, which initially was accepted by the courts, but eventually overturned by a county Judge who opted for a juvenile proceeding based on his age. At 21, this boy’s record will be wiped clean. His court proceedings kept secret. If the boy is not rehabilitated, he could live next door to you when he comes of age, and nobody will be the wiser, unless he truly is evil, then there will be another victim.
Lastly, we have a 9-year-old Seattle boy who shot an 8-year-old classmate inside a Seattle area classroom. The incident is believed to be an accident. The boy put the gun in his backpack and it went off shortly before class was to be dismissed for the day. The victim, Amina Kocer-Bowman, is still fighting for her life after being shot in the abdomen. The boy was arrested and days later it was revealed that, at age-9, the boy had suffered a rough and challenging life. As a toddler, his mother was convicted of forgery and theft as well as a documented dependence on illegal substances. The boy’s father allegedly never paid child support and was convicted of domestic battery against the boy’s mother. Both parents eventually relinquished their parental rights and the boy and his siblings were subsequently adopted by their paternal Grandparents. The boy’s Grandmother died of cancer shortly after adopting him.
While the boy will be tried as a juvenile, the whole situation just reeks of system that failed this young child.
Putting it all into perspective, the Morris Daily Herald reported the boy’s reaction to the Judge after several questions, designed to determine how much the boy understood:
Kitsap County Superior Court Judge Anna Laurie spoke slowly. She was trying to determine if the boy could understand what was going on.
“Do you read at grade level?” she asked.
He looked at his lawyer, at his dad, at his uncle, who also was sitting at the defense table. Laurie rephrased the question.
“I have a little trouble reading,” he said finally. His dad handed him a tissue.
The gist of it is this: Parents make a conscious decision to give their children equal say and representation in how they’re raised, their discipline (if any) and major family decisions giving them complete freedom to choose whatever they want to do in any situation, barring life threatening situations (at least I hope so as this isn’t addressed in the article). Only difference with this new press — it’s been given a new name, “consensual parenting”. Formally such movements were called everything from child centered parenting, attachment parenting or “gentle discipline”.
“When parents put themselves in the role as authorities, they may believe they are doing it ‘for the child’s good,’ ” writes one of the movement’s co-founders, Anna Brown, “but they could be missing an opportunity to have more connected relationships with their children.”
Lindsay Hollett of Nanaimo, B.C., says that she began to snap less with her husband, Craig, and her 18-month-old daughter, Kahlan, after she adopted the consensual-living mindset about a year ago.
Her days became more relaxed when she focused more on Kahlan’s needs, she says. If she had a doctor’s appointment but her daughter was feeling grumpy, for example, Ms. Hollett would not force Kahlan to wait with her to see the doctor. Instead, Ms. Hollett might cancel the appointment or arrange alternative child care, she says.
All original content © 2002 - 2013 Imperfect Parent®. Imperfect Parent and Mominatrix are registered trademarks.
The views, opinions and information expressed in articles and blog posts published on imperfectparent.com and all subdomains are those of the authors alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of The Imperfect Parent or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of any entity of, or affiliated with, Imperfect Parent. The Imperfect Parent is designed for entertainment purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for medical, health, legal, or financial advice from a professional.
Reproduction of material from any of Imperfect Parent's pages without written permission is strictly prohibited.