handcuffsIt's one of those stories where you want to hate the accused, but you're having a hard time summoning the appropriate anger. A 13-year-old girl has been arrested outside Atlanta, Georgia on felony murder charges. Cops say the teen mother buried her newborn baby in the woods behind her house.

There's no answer yet from medical examiners of how the baby died, but it's almost beside the point. A child is dead. And a slightly older child, but a child all the same, is behind bars ... after giving birth.

Perhaps seeing teenage mothers splashed across the covers of the tabloids has made society inured to the horror of mere children giving birth, but I can't get out of my mind the image of a 13-year-old girl, scared and confused, trying to figure out what is wrong with her body as a child grows inside of her. I flash too to the image of a 13-year-old girl giving birth.

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At 13, I wasn't even wearing a bra yet; at least not on days when I didn't have to change in front of my peers in gym class. I probably had a Barbie or two still lying around my bedroom. I know I still slept with my stuffed rabbit. Because I was still very much a child.

That is what 13 is. It's the very first of the teen years, a far cry from womanhood.

It's not an age when someone -- anyone -- should be pregnant, forget being an actual mother. At best, this child's child should have been whisked away into an immediate adoption, the new "mother" already in therapy to help her deal with the tragic circumstances of her life.

The fact that this 13-year-old girl somehow ended up with a dead baby -- remember, despite the murder charge, we do not know how this baby died -- shows an apparent failure of the adults in her life to protect her.

If this girl somehow caused her baby's death, she needs punishment, yes. But let's not forget that she is a victim too, a child victim.

What do you think should be done with this girl, this 13-year-old mother?

 

Image via banspy/Flickr