How far do we go in the search of a just society?
What actions would we consider conscionable punishment of a child?
What if the child's crime is particularly heinous?
In the town of Gouverneur, NY two White girls aged 10 and 11 are charged with second-degree harassment after beating up a 10-year-old classmate. The 11 year-old is also facing hate crime charges after using "racially motivated language."
The story has sparked a debate on how this situation was handled.
In mid-September, two girls assaulted their classmate. The incident took place on a school bus.
At the time of the incident, a bus monitor was present, but did not break up the altercation.
The 10-year-old victim was Black. She suffered a black eye, had her hair pulled out and was bruised.
After the assault her parent notified the school district.
The two girls charged in the alleged attack are currently awaiting county probation officials to decide if they should be prosecuted in family court.
All of this has led to commenters blaming different people for the attack, including the bus aide.
The Superintendent of the Gouverneur Central School District, Lauren French, spoke with local CBS-affiliate 7 News. She called the event "devastating."
French was also trying to figure out the best way to move forward, saying:
"How do we become better out of this? How do we treat everyone better?"
This is a difficult question that the whole country is grappling with. There's been a recent push to have incidents of bullying taken more seriously.
We've also seen a rise in hate crimes.
French and Mayor Ronald P. McDougall both agreed with treating this assault and racist language as a hate crime.
It might be harsh, but it's better than treating it like nothing.
Not everyone agrees with this kind of escalation though.
Anti-bullying advocate, Ross Ellis of Stomp Out Bullying told The New York Times this charge has gone too far.
"Parents are out for blood. I had a mother call me who wanted a 3-year-old on the playground arrested. I get that you don't want your child beaten up, but it's got to stop on both ends."
She recommended that the two White girls in this case should receive counseling and find the roots of this behavior.
This is in line with the commenters who blamed the family for the way these girls acted.
However, there are no easy answers here.
While the actions of these children is egregious, the juvenile system isn't known for reformation.
There is a level of personal responsibility, but how much for an 11-year-old?
How much do we blame the family?
And how much of this debate is because it's two White girls charged with the crime? People are quick to point out how Black people are made out to be hardened threats in the media, while White people are given the benefit of the doubt.
The system is broken.
Not just the justice system, but systems of society that enable or even encourage these kinds of attacks.
This situation, of a school official failing to act, is almost the opposite to another recent story.
A school resource officer has been fired after arresting two 6-year-olds.
The children were guilty of the crime of throwing a tantrum like a 6-year old would. While they were handcuffed and taken to a juvenile detention center, a supervisor released them before they could be processed.
There's got to be a balance there.
The children's picture book Teach Your Dragon About Diversity: Train Your Dragon To Respect Diversity, available here, can start children early before they're in middle school.
Listen to the first season of George Takei's podcast, 'Oh Myyy Pod!' where we explore the racially charged videos that have taken the internet by storm.
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