San Diego Child Stabbing: What Do We Do With Children Who Kill

What causes a child to kill, to murder another?

Should the child be charged as an adult or a juvenile?

Does the child have the capacity to form the intent to kill? to form the premeditation required for murder? Big questions, serious questions. And, questions now facing San Diego County California.

Just this past weekend, a 10-year-old boy in Lakeside, California was arrested for allegedly stabbing, repeatedly, another child, a 12-year-old boy. The 12-year-old boy is dead. Apparently, the 10-year-old boy had anger issues, verbal but not physical, according to a neighbor. The boy’s biological mother was a drug addict and the boy was living with his adoptive family. Some, even believe, that the boy may have a chemical imbalance possibly due to his mothers’ drug use during pregnancy.

If the boy is charged with a crime in California, it would be as a juvenile not an adult. And, since the boy is under the age of 13, California requires a hearing to determine his competency before any trial.

Certainly, if the child has a mental illness, the requisite intent to kill for conviction may not be present. And, further, he may not be competent to stand trial, assist in his defense or understand the charges against him. And, if so, a prosecution for the killing or murder is unlikely. Rather, placement in a psychiatric juvenile facility may be a more likely outcome.

Yet, how do we get to a society where a 10-year-old boy fatally stabs another boy? Were there warning signs? Could the killing have been prevented? Was it the uncontrolled rage and/or the negative developmental effects of in utero drug use that caused the act? Or, was it the exposure to video games many feel create violence in children? Or, was the boy born with a lack of empathy? Stabbing another is a very physical, personal and brutal act.

There are many reasons and causes for why children kill, and, the criminal justice system isn’t always the answer. It’s a horrible tragedy when a child kills. Somehow, as a society, maybe, we have failed these children and the families who are devastated.

Simply my opinion, what say you?


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