There is really no easy way to talk about the tragic news coming out of Chicago today, so let's talk about what we know for sure. An 11-year-old girl was stabbed to death. A 14-year-girl has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder (as a juvenile). And police in the Windy City say the deceased was stabbed a total of 40 times.
This is not child's play, not some little fight gone terribly wrong.
What police are describing is a brutal killing, a crime of passion, a crime of off-the-scale rage.
The 11-year-old's autopsy apparently revealed 30 stab wounds across the neck, chest, and arms, plus defensive wounds on the hands, bruises on the chest, and slash marks across the child's face. The two girls, relatives, were allegedly home alone together at the time of the incident, and police believe the 11-year-old was killed shortly before the 14-year-old called 911 to report that the other child had been hurt.
I realize I say this any time a child is accused of a violent crime, but this isn't how the world is SUPPOSED to work. I'm not naive enough to think it doesn't; I'm simply optimistic enough to hope that reports like this are exceptions that prove the rule, that kids in general are still good.
That children don't kill.
Isn't that how we all are? We see these things on Law & Order: SVU, and we take comfort in the notion that it's "just for TV."
Naive or not, that's the way I'd prefer life. I don't want to start looking at every 14-year-old girl I meet and wondering, "Does she have it in her to stab her relative, a mere child, 40 times?" She should be thinking about algebra, a school dance, going out for the softball team ... not murder.
Obviously, when a 14-year-old stands accused of first-degree murder, we need to talk about it. There needs to be a conversation about the hows and the whys, if only to prevent future tragedy.
But let us not lose ourselves in the details here. Let us not become a nation where we become inured to the horror, where these types of crimes cease to shock us.
What is your honest reaction to this horror? Do you feel like we're hearing these stories more and more?
Image via seniju/Flickr