What to do when a six-year-old kills?

By Karyn Rudance
Hope Secondary School
Hope, British Columbia

Murder is unquestionably the most serious crime that can be committed by the human hand. So how do we punish the criminals who are responsible? How do we, as humans ourselves, put a price on another person? Do we kill them for killing? Do we institutionalize them for being insane enough to kill, or do we just shut them up in a prison?


Obviously, age is taken into account, but how much should it matter? If a 30-year-old kills, he is imprisoned. If a 20-year-old kills, he is imprisoned. If a 15-year-old kills, imprisonment might be debatable.What about a 13-year-old, a 10-year-old, or, here's a new one, a 6-year-old? How do we punish a 6-year-old child who intentionally commits a murder?

On February 29, people in the community of Flint, Michigan, were faced with this exact issue. A 6-year-old girl, Kayla Rolland, was shot in the back of the neck by a fellow classmate of the same age after she yelled at him for spitting on her desk. The class was preparing for a trip to the library when he pulled a .32 calibre gun out of his pants and pointed it at Kayla and her friend, Haili Durbin. The single bullet went into Kayla. She died a half hour after the attack.

According to Haili, the boy often "spit on people, hit people, cursed and stuck up his middle finger." His father is currently in jail and the child was living in a crack house with his mother, until the state child-welfare agency took him into custody after the shooting. He won't be held responsible for what he has done, says Arthur Busch, Genesee County prosecutor, but someone might be facing charges for enabling him to get a hold of the weapon.

Whatever happens though, there is no way to change the fact that a little girl is dead. The question remains, could this have been avoided? We need to start recognizing what is going on with today's children and try to help prevent situations like this one from happening again.