When most of us think of the age 11, we're taken back to a simpler time, when our biggest worries were sixth grade math and catching cooties from the boy next door. But an 11-year-old girl from Texas has much deeper concerns after being arrested on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Police say the 11-year-old stabbed a female relative nine times while the woman was sleeping!
Imagine such violent behavior at 11? Toshia Edmonson, who has been reported as the girl's mother by some media, woke up during the attack and was able to fend the child off.
Taken to the hospital, Edmonson will survive the wounds from the kitchen knife that got her in the head, neck, and shoulder. That's good news for her and for the child, whose punishment -- if convicted -- will likely be much less because her alleged victim is alive.
But just how does one punish an 11-year-old for what sounds like a violent attack of the kind that would put an adult behind bars for years? How does society as a whole come to terms with such depravity from a small child?
As the mother of a child who is just three years shy of the 11 mark, I keep circling back to the alleged offender's age in my head.
Eleven. She may not have even gotten her period yet. She probably hasn't kissed a boy yet. She may still play with Barbie dolls.
She is still a child.
The crime she's accused of committing, however, is not child-like. It is vicious. It is terrifying. It is one that must come with punishment, a punishment that fits the crime.
But what is that, exactly?
It's scary to think of a child with those issues back out on the streets. But a number of studies on punishments for juvenile offenders have found that treating them like adults does nothing to prevent them from re-offending. Kids don't "scare straight" by being treated like adults, no matter how adult-like their crimes.
The sad fact is that kids who commit adult crimes are still often kids. At least, an 11-year-old is still a kid, no matter what she's accused of doing. Stabbing a woman -- perhaps her mother -- nine times does not advance her by seven years.
If anything, my biggest hope is that this little girl gets help. Punishment, yes, but the sort of punishment that helps shape her into a successful adult rather than one that ruins her life before it really begins.
What do you think should be done with violent youthful offenders? Is there an age when they're just too young to punish?
Image via seniju/Flickr