Two tweens in different parts of the country have been charged with ending the life of an infant in their home this week.
In southern Illinois, a 9 year-old was charged with first-degree murder. Reportedly, the tween beat a 14 month-old baby in the home to death. Details are still emerging and authorities were not elaborating the details, a neighbor told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the family had moved in a few months ago and that they had "four or five children lived in the house, including the 9-year-old boy and the baby who was killed."
Authorities charged a 10 year-old in Maine with manslaughter in the death of an infant, Brooklyn Foss-Greenaway. Unlike murder, which generally involves an intentional act, manslaughter charges are brought when a homicide is caused by reckless actions or criminal negligence. The tween's mother was babysitting the three month-old overnight.
These reports are utterly heartbreaking. I hate to share bad news, but parents need to know that this happens. While the details of the incidents are still emerging, it initially seems that in both scenarios, the infants died after being left alone with the tweens who have been charged.
Parents, please, PLEASE think long and hard before permitting a tween to be alone with a baby. And then think a little bit harder still. Even the sweetest of babies can push the most rational adult to the brink. I'm not saying that all tweens are capable of murder. But many tweens, especially those on the younger end at 8, 9, and 10 years-old but also those who are older, lack the abilities and maturity needed to safely handle being alone with a baby.
Sometimes tweens seem older than they actually are. They are children. They are years away from being able to drive a car or vote. Consider that when leaving them alone with a little one whose well-being is dependent on a tween.
If you are aware of a situation with a tween alone with a younger child creating what you believe is an unsafe situation, do not be afraid to call the authorities. A child's life could depend on it.
Do you agree that tweens should not be left alone with infants? Or do you think some tweens can handle that amount of responsibility?