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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 23, 2009 / 4 Elul 5769

What to Do When a Kid Pulls the Trigger?

By Mitch Albom






http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Trisha Babcock was twice the age of the person who allegedly shot and killed her.


And she was only 24.


Which makes the alleged "gunman" only 12.


So here comes another hand-wringing debate over whether children are still children when they kill like adults.


Try these sentences on for size: The kid was sixth-grade age. The kid was too young for a PG-13 movie without guidance.


You hear that, you think "child."


Now try these sentences: The "kid" was 6-foot-2. He allegedly pointed a gun at close range and fired. Sounds pretty adult all of a sudden, doesn't it?


The problem is, all those sentences are true. Which is why it's so mind-numbingly difficult to know what to do here.


It's why the father of the murdered girl told the media, "Part of me feels remorse for the kid because he's so young, and then part of me wants to choke the living (expletive) out of him."


What do you do? Do you treat Demarco Harris, a 12-year-old, as an adult — and if found guilty imprison him for life?


Or do you say a child is a child, and if Harris is found guilty only put him away, at most, until he is 21, then set him free.


On the one hand, it's hard to argue that a 12-year-old is fully formed. Think back to when you were 12. How much did you understand the ramifications of things? How much did you change in the years that followed?


Throw in the world in which Harris lives, the prevalence of violence, the fast access to guns, and you easily could conclude that this is a tragic intersection of immaturity and a bullet.


On the other hand, critics who say a 12-year-old doesn't understand what he's doing are, in my view, also a little off. This isn't about understanding the ramifications of death. Heck, I'm not sure we ever understand the ramifications of death. Soldiers will tell you they only learn it through war. Nurses will say they only learn it on the job.


What Demarco Harris did wasn't about understanding death. It was about understanding murder. And a 12-year-old is plenty old enough to know that murder is wrong, that it is illegal, that it is evil at its most vicious. If the 12-year-old doesn't know that — and he doesn't have a learning disability — then his parents did a pretty awful job.


Which brings us, naturally, to the parents. It was Harris' father who ultimately turned him in to the police. But what about before that? Where was the dad in keeping his son off the street after midnight? Where was he in keeping his son away from guns?


How much guilt should the parents bear if a shooter is too young to accept the full punishment of his actions?


And then there's the victim. Trisha Babcock was, by most accounts, a smiling young woman who did nothing more than sit in a car at the wrong time. But nothing we do to Harris will bring Babcock back.


On the other hand, when victims' families cry for justice, they should not be dismissed as angry, upset or grieving. Justice matters. You can't just shrug and say, "Too bad your daughter got murdered by a 12-year-old. Maybe if the killer were older…"


Babcock's family has every right to expect her death to be acknowledged and balanced with severe punishment. It wasn't an accident. It wasn't a tree falling or a bolt of lightning hitting. It was murder.


So what do you do? If you treat Harris as an adult, he might go away for the rest of his life. If you treat him as a juvenile, or even use the blended sentence option, he still will spend his formative years in the company of criminals. Does he have much chance of emerging as a solid citizen? Look how quickly Nathaniel Abraham, who killed a man when he was 11, was back in prison after being set free at 21.


So add it all up. You have a kid who did or didn't know better, spending nine years or the rest of his life locked up, surrounded by other criminals, and costing taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars every year.


What do you do? There is no right answer. All we really know is that if a kid is out after midnight, carrying a gun, thinking about robbery, by the time he pulls the trigger, it already is too late.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

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