The story of 8-year-old Amy Yates' recent death is one that doesn't have a happy ending or a good explanation. I don't know her or her family, but I spent a lot of time thinking about her last week and even more time thinking about the 12-year-old Carroll County boy charged with her murder.
The question that keeps entering my mind is, "Why?"
And in a case like this there probably is no real explanation. Sometimes people just do things that don't make sense. I'll stress here that the boy has not been found guilty of this crime, so the commentary below will be generic, referring simply to the idea of a child killing another child.
A question that arises is, "Is there anything that could be done to prevent something like this from happening?" Are there warning signs that a parent or friend can detect? Do children with unusual behavior need to be treated for mental disorders or are they simply kids being kids? Is lack of attention a major factor in why children do things like this?
It's also a bit disturbing that the third-grader allegedly strangled Amy Yates. How would a 12-year-old child know how to strangle someone else? Is that something shown on television, and do children that young even realize that strangulation can cause death?
Of course the classic tragedy that comes to mind here is the slayings at Columbine High School five years ago. At that time I think many of us woke up to the fact that young people are capable of committing horrendous crimes and it may be in our best interest to start paying closer attention to the behavior of the young people we encounter.
Friends and neighbors of the boy charged in Amy Yates' death reportedly say he may have been "troubled." But from the published reports I've read, it seems like his behavior mischief-making, smoking cigarettes and cursing sounds quite similar to many children of this age.
But maybe when children kill, there is something that someone missed. Maybe there is a warning sign that wasn't acknowledged that could keep things like this from happening.
I suppose the best lesson in this is that we need to pay better attention to each other. It's better to speak up and find that your theory was unfounded than to spend the rest of your life wishing you'd acknowledged a warning sign.
April Avison is the city editor of the Daily Herald. Her column appears on Mondays. She can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.