The Georgia Baby Incident: Where Are We Going Next?

Antonio WestDear Reader,

I don’t frequently write about news stories, especially ones that are still going on, but I saw a news article that I cannot get out of my mind. The story concerned two teenagers, who apparently tried to rob a mother who was taking her baby out for a stroll in her Georgia neighborhood. When the mother made it clear that she did not have the money they were protesting, the older teenager took out a gun, said that he was going to shoot the baby, followed through on that threat, and then shot the mother in the leg before running away. The two teenagers were seventeen and fourteen years of age. The mother survived, but the baby did not.

Before I go any further, regardless of what did or did not happen in this still-unfolding event, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the life that has been lost and the family that is in grieving.

Murder is not acceptable. I become quite baffled when people say that a young murderer “didn’t know what they were doing.” Of course they did. When it is murder (which I will distinguish here between self-defense or accidental manslaughter), it is by definition planned. You know what you are doing. Furthermore, to say that one is too young to know what they are doing suggests that there is an age in which murder remains questionable, perhaps even acceptable or normal, and that such a belief must be weeded out of a person through age and instruction. This could just be me and where I have grown up, but I have never seen murder as normal. As long as I can remember, I have never seen it as an option or something that I didn’t know enough about not to engage in. From a moral standpoint, it was out of the question.

Is this what happened with these two teenagers? Did their upbringing challenge or alter their views on murder? I have no idea and I do not want to imply that I do. The story is still being revealed and there are many facts that need to be overturned. Some say that the mother did the “wrong” thing by not giving the boys her purse (even if there was no money in it). Some say that it’s due to the education system that the boys behaved as they did. Some question whether the boys really existed, or if the story was just fabricated for selfish/attention-seeking reasons.

In some ways, it doesn’t matter. This is not a post about the two boys or the mother or the baby as much as it is what this story represents. Taking your baby out for a stroll in your own neighborhood used to seem like a good idea. Is that no longer the case? If a mother, who was out at 9:00 AM carrying only a purse and no other visible signs of wealth, has to worry about being attacked, who else has to worry as well? Should we drown ourselves in fear of who we may meet around our neighborhood corner? And if a teenager takes someone else’s life, does/should the state have the authority to take their rights (or life) away?

Of course it is nowhere near a new concept (and I am sure if we go back to the age of human sacrifices, we could find even worse examples), but human life has meant less than in previous years. This is natural, and expected, after wartime. I see a lack of consideration for human life in the video games that get distributed each year, in the films that get the most press and the largest box-office openings in America, in the television shows that treat nuclear explosions like the opening of a fizzy soda can, and in the comment sections of true-life murder stories, in which the readers leave hateful rants without even once acknowledging the life or lives that have just been lost.

I am trying to refrain from being a hypocrite and going on a rant here. Yet when human life becomes disposable, and can be thrown away like an afterthought of anger (which, it seems, is exactly what happened with the Georgia Baby Incident), something must change. We are not dealing with the characters in a novel or a video game or a television show. The people around us are not figments of our imagination or artifacts of our sub-conscious, but fully realized creatures with fully realized hopes, dreams, emotions, families, friends, and futures. Don’t take those futures away. Obviously you don’t need me to tell you that. Obviously this isn’t a movie; this is real life. This we know to be true. Now let’s have our actions match our knowledge.


Jumbled Writer

*Photo credited to Jason Evans, CNN


48 Responses to The Georgia Baby Incident: Where Are We Going Next?

  1. Oh no, my original comment just disappeared so I’ll start again :-). I believe young people don’t have the full mental capacity to comprehend that death is a final sentence, no more life — dead. Forever. My belief, however, by no means is a “get out of jail” free card. Young people MUST be held accountable for their despicable and inexcusable actions. The reality is that young people don’t comprehend that there are real consequences for their actions. And because I’m cognizant of the craziness and stupidity that grip young people, especially when they are with their cohorts, I immediately go into survival mode when they’re anywhere nearby. Now, I won’t pretend to know how the mother felt at the exact moment she was threatened; but I do know this about myself. Once I see a gun, and whether it’s pointed at me or not, absolutely nothing is more important than staying alive. I dont care about my right to be on the street or my right to hold on to what is rightfully mine. All bets are off once the weapon appears. Young people thought processes are all over the place and I don’t want to be the statistics of whatever is going on in their head or world. Young people just have way too many outside influences. Now sadly, another life, before it had time to really get started, is gone forever. Now another young person will be in the penal system for a horrendous crime and all because he was probably showing off for his accomplice and wanted to prove something.

    • Very interesting take on the situation. I agree that it is hard to know what a person will do, and when a gun gets involved, that unknown factor brings a lot of danger to it. I had not considered the incident as a way of showing off before, but that brings a valid point with it. Is death just another way to up your cool factor? Has robbing become too tame to be considered cool? I’ll have to ponder that. Thank you for your thoughtful, very reflective comment!

    • Gwen –

      I don’t agree that children, even very, very young ones, don’t have the ability to understand that death is final.

      My son was 22 months old and a week or two, when his baby brother was born and died without ever leaving the hospital. From the first, even though he was not yet able to speak clearly, he see,ed to understand that his baby was not coming home. We were as clear as we could be, at a level that he could understand, that Elijah’s body stopped working, and could not be fixed. When he was about 3, he was able to understand that when a brain is broken, it sometimes can’t be fixed.

      His sister was born a year later, and I have forgotten when, exactly, she came to understand that she had another brother who lived and died before she was born, and that she will never meet him.

      They are 8 and 11, now, both younger by a few years than the alleged shooters in this story. We have talked many times about death, injury, violence…

      Maybe that’s it. We DO talk – not at, but WITH – our children. They have never attended school, nearly always have a parent available, and we have always been very open to discussing any topic until they are satisfied.

      We don’t put limits on what shows they watch or games they play – but we TALK about many things that arise from those choices.

      I think many parents want to avoid the tough things, and shield their children. Sometimes, though, I think it backfires. Children are smart, and often more observant and intuitive than adults think. When something’s being covered up, they can sense that.

      Also, many adults seem not to consider the need for trust. If a child knows that an adult lies, manipulates, and punishes them, it’s hard to trust. And, if a child can’t trust their parent, how much value will they ultimately place on anything that parent says to them?

      I have a theory that adolescents who commit violent acts, or are just “rebellious” are this way in part because they have been being dominated in their lives as far back as they can remember, and they are at last big enough, powerful enough, and close enough to being free of parental and school authority to risk it – and teens’ minds were made for risk – it’s a daring move to set out on one’s own!

      We’re living a different kind of life, here, one where adults and children are partners, learning and growing together. I will know, in a few years, whether or not this has a positive effect on the teens my children will be…but, as the first waves of puberty are rolling into our lives, things seem a lot less rocky than I would have expected, and, although it is a tumultuous time, for them and for our family, we still have a great deal of affection and open lines of communication.

      Jumbled –

      So, maybe it is the games and the ads and school and a lot of other things – blended with parents who aren’t there when those things are going on, who seem disconnected from the people their children are, who haven’t earned the childrens’ trust, and who maybe have, in ways large and small, devalued the childrens’ lives?

      I hope that, if this story is true, that time is spent in figuring out what went wrong in these young people’s lives, that they could see, even for an instant, killing a defenseless infant as a reasonable or acceptable course of action.

      And I will close by saying that I honor this baby who did not grow up, and will hold the mother close to my own still-grieving mother’s heart.

      • That’s quite a deep analyzation of the situation. I agree that keeping open communication between parents and children is vital. Children are much smarter than some give them credit for. Parents that try to be secretive will be found out, if only on an intuitive level, from the children. Keeping secrets in the family is not the way to go for developing healthy, free relationships. I hope others can apply as much thought as you have to trying to see what “went wrong”, so to speak. Thanks for dropping by.

        • Since we were all babies and children before we were older, and because often childhood is a time of being powerless to stand up against sometimes cruel domination, it seems to me to make sense to look at those parts of someone’s life, ifwe want to understand their motivations.

          I, for instance, am highly empathic at least in part because feeling others’ emotional energy and working to appease them were a form of defense against being hit or verbally abused – sometimes.

          In my case, I benefit, but, even so, I was not and still am not, always the sweetest and kindest of parents.

          I do, however, hold myself to account, and my children are free to hold me to account, because I have shared my ideals with them, and because, when they stand for themselves, they know they will be heard.

          So far, they are amazing, kind people who are learning how to settle their emotions before they become reactive. That takes lots of practice…practice I never had as a child, and that my parents and theirs didn’t, either.

          I think it’s a complex situation, with too many layers and levels for any easy answers…but being kinder to others, especially to children, will reap wonderful benefits.

          I’m very happy to have found your blog, and, although the post was disturbing, to have also been able to examine the ideas and questions you presented.

          • I am glad that you have found this blog as well. Kindness must be part of the solution, absolutely. We do not know what struggles others are going through, nor do we always know the power that a single kind gesture can have on someone for the better.

  2. Sadly, I don’t think it matters whether or not the teens ‘knew what they were doing.’ If they were victims of a bad upbringing or broken educational system, it doesn’t make any difference. A child is dead. These damaged teens need to be locked away for the rest of their lives. If something happened in their youth to make them turn out to be the way they are, it’s tragic, but they need to be locked away so they can’t hurt anyone else. While I do often have sympathy for some of the broken people our society produces, we can’t allow our compassion to override common sense. For the good of the rest of society, murderers (regardless of age) need to put in jail in order to protect everyone else. Thanks for pointing out the complexities of this issue and also for getting to the heart of the issue – an innocent baby is dead. My heart goes out to the family.

    • Yes, no matter what the root causes were (and I imagine there were many), the undeniable fact is that a family member is no longer in this world. That must be dealt with. How the system will handle that remains to be seen. The last I read, I believe they were both charged with murder sentences.

  3. What a sad, tragic event. Murder is wrong and from the time they are young, children should be taught it is so. Hurting is pain to everyone and babies should be taught that. Regardless of what their home life was/is I do not feel that a fourteen or seventeen year old should not be responsible for their actions. Murder is wrong. To even imply the mother was at fault for not giving them her purse is making excuses – where there is none. That is my opinion. To me those two teens should be punished to the fullest extent – no excuses. I would ask Gwen – why wouldn’t young people (especially teens) comprehend that there are real consequences for their actions? If their parents don’t teach that surely society does.

    • There are definitely a lot of questions that a case like this brings up. Society does seem to show at least some of the consequences, as both have been charged with murder. I see quite a bit of a debate as to the validity of these charges. Many people seem to support it, but others are outraged.

  4. It breaks my heart to know a child has died. And all because those teens probably thought it would up their street cred or whatever. What’s distressing even more is that it’s also happening here where I live. Teens breaking in homes and robbing people in broad daylight.

    It’s a world-wide concern.

    • I agree that this problem is not just limited to Georgia. Morality appears to be on a decline and I would love to see it get back up. If it does not, though, we must think about where to go from here. If this is the present, what does the future look like?

  5. Where are human beings going? Recently a man did similar thing because he suspected that the mother of the baby has filed a report against him.

    it really scares one to think what is in the mind of people like this.

    • I agree that there must be a lot of hate trapped in the minds of killers. I hope that something–healing, treatment, legal consequences–can help prevent future crimes like these.

  6. I agree with you, murder has no age limit, the teenager who pointed a gun at his mother knows exactly what he is doing..

    I wonder where the world is going to. A child shooting his mother over money? that’s sad. The way the world encourage this to continue is by defending the teenagers the way i read it up there.. it is sad. it doesn’t matter the age, if you kill, you face the law.

    • That is true. Death has consequences. I hope that things do not get worse, though sometimes it is hard to maintain hope over that idea.

  7. I have wondered if the violence of video games serves some kind of purpose for young males in society, expending some of that aggression in the same way that sports do. The sad thing is he may in future years develop the capacity to care about others but he has already destroyed his life as much as the lives of that mother and baby and will have to live with the consequences. How terribly sad. I really like your blog, good writing, and thanks for visiting mine.

    • That’s an excellent point. One never knows how their personality or view on issues will change as they grow older. Many people have the ability to change their life as a result of their changing views, but when you are stuck in a place like prison (possibly for life), motivation for change can be hard to grasp. Not impossible, but difficult.

  8. Thanks for visiting my blog.
    Having said that, I agree with your above blog post. I was the victim of workplace violence. The person that tried to kill me was an employee of mine that I had known for nearly a year. Still don’t know what set him off and I still suffer physically and emotionally from the attack (over 11 years since it happened). It SCARES me to think of what is happening in our country and I fear it will only get worse.

    • That sounds like it would have been horrific. I am sorry that you had to go through that pain, though I think it would really change your perception on strangers (for better or worse). I don’t know if this helps your fear or not, but I think we have always been violent as a nation. Times may be getting worse, but fortunately there are many people who are paying attention to this. Just look at the current debate on guns. The fierce opinions does offer some hope.

  9. I agree that life has become sadly disposable these days in many people’s mind.

    I do think, as one commenter said, that there is an age when children don’t understand that death is final. I saw this with my young niece when her mother died. However, that doesn’t mean that those children go around trying to kill others. Something is terribly wrong if they do. Besides that, a 14 and 17 year old definitely know that death is not only final, but know what they’re doing. No 14 year old thinks, “I can shoot a baby and everything will be ok.” Whether the child was thinking logically at the time or not, they knew that shooting a baby would likely kill it.

    • You raise a good point. Even if someone may not have fully comprehended the finality of death, you can’t use a gun on someone and expect the victim to remain unharmed. If you are shooting right at them, there seems to be no other logical explanation other than to say that you intended to kill.

  10. Thank you for this post. It is very sad. The poor mother and child, family and neighbours. We are all so much poorer when humans act without grace and love and humanity.
    I will keep watching your blog.

    • Unfortunately, stories like these are growing more and more common as the days go on. I just heard a story of two boys (one ten, one eleven) who went armed into their school and planned to rape and then kill one of their female classmates. They had step-by-step instructions of how they were going to carry out their plan. It is simply unthinkable.

  11. I find it hard to believe that anyone would think a person of 12 or 14 years old would not know the consequences of killing someone. Surely the whole purpose of pointing a gun at another is to cause harm to that person. Even if death is not the result, at the very least serious injury would be caused.

    I don’t care what area of the world you’re from or how much money you grew up with, hurting someone with intent is wrong and should be punishable by law – regardless of age. This is unfortunate because in the past a parent would have taken care of the punishment,long before it got to this point, but in the wierd and warped societal values of today, a parent is considered inhuman if they spank a child for doing something that will cause harm to another. Children grow up knowing that no matter what they do they will suffer no consequences. Instead, innocent people are killed.

    What kind of society have we become when those who try to teach are castigated, and the ones who cause real harm and death are petted and a big deal is made of their poor depreved circumstances? Society has nothing to blame but itself. It is not where you come from or the school you attend or who your parents are, it’s the lessons you are taught in life and the guidance you receive from those who love you that mold you into a caring person.

    Sorry, this is your blog and if anyone is to rant on it then it should be you, not me. I just get so angry when I read that this is ‘not the fault of the perpetrators’ and that ‘they didn’t know killing someone was wrong’. Of course they know, they just don’t care. In the end, we will not be taken out by terrorists, we will be murdered by our children.

    • No, don’t worry about ranting. I appreciate that you feel able to express your views on here, as you should. The image of the future that you present is bleak, and while I hope that it does not come to that (all parents being murdered by their children), we must be aware of what is going on and correct it before the damage is done. I know that to just say “hope things get better” does nothing. To say that everything we do has consequences is not just an issue of morality, or of political party, but of reality.

      • Thanks. I was a little worried that I’d overstepped the bounds and would be kicked off the site.

        I didn’t mean to imply that all parents would be murdered by their children, only that many parents are so caught up in work and the latest child-rearing blogs and TV parenting shows that they have managed to disconnect from common sense.

        Discipline is wrong, suffering consequences for your actions is wrong. Self expression is the ‘in’ thing so five year olds are allowed their tantrums without consequence, even though it endangers them and others. If a child wants to knock another child down and hit him/her, that’s just self-expression. Who cares that the injured child ends up in the hospital? Later, at 12 and 14 years old, they shoot people who don’t give them money that they have no right to and didn’t earn. Why? Because they don’t know right from wrong? NO! Because they can. Because they are angry that someone denied them what they wanted. Because they have been taught by society that there are no consequences for their actions.

        I feel sure that if they were shot both they and their parents would be the first to scream injustice and/or prejudice. But now public attention is on them and there are those who feel that it isn’t their fault that a child is dead. The lawyers will play on their upbringing and background and youth and they will be freed – without consequences – to go out and continue their self-centered rampages. Meanwhile, the death of the child will be pushed under the rug, and the safety of others will be of little to no concern.

        Perhaps, if a human reaches the age of 12 to 14 years old and is already a sociopath who thinks that shooting people–or even stealing from them at gunpoint–is OK, then maybe they are already criminally insane, they are a danger to others, and should be treated as such.

        • No worries. I have never kicked anyone off of this site. Something like the story above is bound to provoke strong emotions in people, and I want users to feel that they are able to express themselves. Self-entitlement is a dangerous thing, and the more we get away from it, the closer we get to protecting others (in response to your reply).

  12. Thank you for visiting my blog!
    I feel sick inside whenever I read about something like this, so when I saw this headline, I skipped the story. (I know I shouldn’t stick my head in the sand, but sometimes I need to.) This was horrible enough when I thought it was maybe an innocent bystander of a gang shooting, but this, this is terrible. My first thought was for the mother; how destroyed she must be by this, how furious, how broken. And how guilty too, not because she did anything wrong, but because of a thousand different questions running through her mind right now – did I fail my baby, what could I have done differently, if only I hadn’t brought my purse, or gone back to grab the extra diapers….

    And then my second thought is for the other parents, the ones who are sitting in shocked disbelief that their son could do this – either because they throught they had brought him up better, or because they didn’t think he was quite that stupid, or because they thought they beat it out of him a long time ago. I don’t know. It is harder for me to get inside those parents heads. I just don’t know how you raise a kid who gets to that point.

    And the kids, well. They made a bad, bad mistake and they will need to pay for that. They may do their time, change their life around, become caring people…but knowing the little I do of the American penal system I think that they killed that chance along with the baby. I do think teenagers, while having the ability to intellectually understand consequences, are unable to think them through in the moment. There is a lot of developmental research on this. They leap before they look, but that doesn’t mean we should pull them out of the fire.
    Sorry, JW – I left a jumbled comment, but these things are just so complicated.

    • You raise a good point. Unfortunately, though she has no need to, I imagine the mother will spend so many days, months, maybe years feeling that she could have done something to prevent this from happening. That self-imposed guilt would be torturous to live with. The parents of the boys must feel the same way. That one is tricky, too, since–while I do not know their home circumstances–raising children not to be killers might be so natural that it is taken for granted. How many parents really expect their young, teenage children to go and kill a child?

  13. I don’t know if this type of crime is more common or if we just hear about it more thanks to a news media that relishes lurid headlines.

    A person above the age of five who *steals* another human’s life under such trivial and one-sided circumstances has flunked the biggest and most important test: the ability to display even an ounce of genuine empathy.

    They may be as human as the rest of us, but they shouldn’t be trusted to walk free again.

    • That’s very true. Media makes everything available so quickly that it can be easy to convince ourselves that the world is going to hell just by taking a look at the news.

  14. Wow, I can’t even wrap my mind around this. My prayers are with the mother, baby and the teens as well. Having said that though, I really think the teens should be tried as adults and sent to prison. Too often teens are allowed to get away with unspeakable acts because of their age. Then they become adults who commit unspeakable acts.

    • You raise a very good point. If we let children loose from all consequences, what will they be like as they grow up? If this is what they do as children, what will they do as adults?

  15. I could very easily go on my own rant, but I’ll spare you.
    I do find it interesting that in here in America, so many have worked so very hard to get pray and God out of schools, but now there are those who are working just as hard to get guns in school to protect children.
    It seems to me, if we were raising our children on morality instead of murder and mayhem, (as in video games, TV, movies, even cartoons) many people, and babies, would still be alive.

    • You can not get guns out of the schools, this has already been proven. The only way to prevent bullies with guns from taking over is to give everyone a gun and teach them to be responsible. This would take the advantage from the bully and put everyone back on equal footing. As for the psycopath who brings a gun with the intent to kill everyone, instead of killing 25 kids and teachers he might get two. Even a psycopath would think twice before doing this, but perhaps it wouldn’t get to that point if the bullies were put back in their place from the beginning.

      • I get your point about carrying guns, but so many guns sounds like a war zone.
        I like your last idea of dealing with bullies.
        Bullies are usually angry with someone like a parent. Since they can not take their anger out on this person, they take it out on someone else.
        Then there are those who for some reason never learned respect for others.
        Somewhere we failed these children and adults. They need to be loved, healed of their woulds, taught the right way to react to a problem, and disciplined when needed.
        Another words, it’s big problem not easily answered or solved.

        • Unfortunately, they are warping and destroying those weaker than themselves and end up being responsible in no small way for the deaths of many others. FIRST stop them from harming others, THEN work on fixing them – if that is even possible.

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