The innocence of children is the basis for many of our laws and societal arrangements. Because children don’t know about the world, they can’t make any informed decisions by themselves.

But, where does childhood end, and when do responsibilities begin? That is the core debate behind so many regulations and guidelines that people follow.

Parents and educators, guardians, protectors; that is the line that adults have to decide on for the safety and protection of children. 

But some children prove the rule by being exceptions. A child’s innocence often ends where the legal system begins, and their crimes cannot be excused by mere lack of agency alone.

Some children break the golden rules of civilized society. When anyone violates such laws, they have to be punished, whether they understand why or not.

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10 /10 The Incident

On October 30th of 2018, a girl – who is unnamed due to the legal complications of the law regarding illegal minors – was at a daycare with a 6-month-old baby named Jaxon in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.

She was only ten years old when the incident occurred. For unclear reasons, she picked the baby up but dropped him.

When he started crying, she stomped on his head until he stopped. She was discovered soon after and was arrested. The boy died two days later.

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9 /10 Confession

This all happened in a foster home. The girl had been removed from her mother’s care due to complications earlier that year. It happened the month before the disturbing incident occurred.

The girl was meant to be part of the same foster family as the small boy, assumedly. She claimed her decision was made in panic and wasn’t planned.

It was all just an accident, but she didn’t deny that she did stomp on the infant’s face until he was bloody and silent.

8 /10 Mental Soundness

The girl was held and interviewed to determine her state of mind. There was a possibility that she did not have the mental ability to comprehend her actions and would not stand trial as a result.

To rule that out, they interviewed her and found that she was legally sane, but she was still just 10. Defense attorneys argued that she didn’t have even half the capacity of a functional adult at that point in her life.

7 /10 Adult Court

Despite that, the girl was set up to be tried as an adult for homicide. Typically, for cases of minors that young, even for intentional murder, they can only be treated as minors and sentenced to punishments that line up with their status as juveniles.

If they are determined to have not undergone proper improvements to their learning and understanding of their actions, they can be retried as adults and put through adequate punishment. For the girl, they planned to skip the process.

6 /10 Mother's Account

The girl’s mother – also unnamed for legal protection – was devastated and continually defended her daughter throughout the trial and the periods between hearings.

According to the mother, the girl was not the person they were making her out to be. She was kind and caring and wanted to be a doctor.

Her assumption of her daughter’s innocence that she was trying to help the infant and let him slip from her hands. She also discounted the blows to the face as part of the accident.

5 /10 Instability

Because the girl was not violent or mentally impaired, she was able to stand trial. She responded reasonably to questions and understood what was happening to her in a legal sense.

However, the defense enlisted the aid of court psychologists who declined the initial diagnoses and concluded that she could not stand in court at that time and would continue to check up on her in quarterly reports to assess her state of mind. The goal would be to make her competent within a year.

4 /10 PTSD

Part of the reason this change happened was the post-traumatic stress disorder that the girl seemed to have.

The murderous action might have been out of her control at the moment as she lost herself to the panic. The separation from her biological mother may have also played a part in her strained mental state.


3 /10 Removed From Society

Between the hearings, the girl was initially placed in a juvenile detention facility for months on end, not allowed to see her mother or her foster family, and suffered severe emotional breakdowns.

On her first court appearance, she barely spoke and cried through most of it, which was expected.

Once she was declared mentally incompetent, however, they moved her to the Winnebago Mental Health Institute, where she was the youngest person in a place full of adults deemed potential threats to themselves and others.

2 /10 Adult Charges

The extreme nature of the case and the potential adult charges against the girl that could put her in prison for the rest of her life have brought up a conversation about the nature of justice and punishment for minors.

Without proper emotional and mental care, the girl will likely never remediate or come to understand what she did was wrong and will only develop criminal habits from being around adult criminals.

Sending her to jail is an imperfect solution to a much more present underlying mental instability and emotional trauma problem.

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1 /10 Future Unclear

The girl’s mother has attempted to raise money to clear the $50,000 bond so her daughter can come home and be placed under supervision.

She still sees her as her daughter first and affirms that the whole incident, while tragic, was an accident. She fears for her daughter’s life behind bars at just 11 years old more than anything.

As of now, no clear charges have been established. Her punishment is deferred, or perhaps the warped reality she lives in now is her punishment. She did what no child should ever do and lives a life no child would ever want.

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