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.
An 11-year-old white girl is charged with a hate crime after a 10-year-old black girl was subjected to “racially mo… https://t.co/7yvuxkXrce— WSVN 7 News (@WSVN 7 News)1569371400.0
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.
@Essence They better charge the damn bus aide, who sat there and watched those two unbridled, menacing, witless lit… https://t.co/18RjHUYLEg— Kenneth O' Veal (@Kenneth O' Veal)1569788616.0
@CNN “The bus monitor, a 28-year-old woman, was also charged with three counts endangering the welfare of a child M… https://t.co/F6r6JyRKg5— John G Curry (@John G Curry)1569406887.0
@nytimes Imagine if that adult on the bus had done their job, this wouldn't even been a discussion. That's the pers… https://t.co/LBSDDUhI1g— ails (@ails)1569483668.0
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.
@aliexfolgueira @wsvn I hope you had that same energy when Tamir Rice was gunned down at 12 on sight by police.— Robot (@Robot)1569372348.0
@ManinistGhana @CNN That isn't a fight, that's assualt. They tore her hair out. They jumped her. Wake up— It's Amazing (@It's Amazing)1569356519.0
@wargod203 @CNN Ahhhh the typical “But” response instead of just focusing on the facts in front of you 😂— IV.XIII.MCMXCII (@IV.XIII.MCMXCII)1569352173.0
@TalibanHunter2 @CNN Oh look, the schmuck thinks he's funny. Way to go Edgelord, keep lording those edges.— SpookyNerd 🌙🦉🌹✡️♊️ (@SpookyNerd 🌙🦉🌹✡️♊️)1569417781.0
@ChuckDiesel915 @nytimes Thinking it was the racial slurs.— Conservative tears are delicious (@Conservative tears are delicious)1569460585.0
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.
@nytimes The parents of those 2 white girls should probably be the ones facing criminal charges while the 2 girls s… https://t.co/iiCk3SVnfK— Chris (@Chris)1569459833.0
@CNN The parents may be criminals for the way they've raised their child, but the child is a child, for heaven's sake.— Silas (@Silas)1569350708.0
@NYDailyNews Don’t punish the girls, punish the idiots they have as parents. Way too young to think for themselves yet.— Binz21 (@Binz21)1569706736.0
@nytimes That kind of behavior is learned and encouraged at home. Shame on those parents and shame on those girls.— Susan Sp (@Susan Sp)1569460562.0
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.
@nytimes Ah yes, the failed criminal justice system, just what will fix this situation— Jaq (@Jaq)1569464977.0
@themightyjungle @CNN The thing is what could the bus driver do besides give them verbal commands commands to stop… https://t.co/jMquyzj6Gk— My Name is My Name (@My Name is My Name)1569408344.0
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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