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Posted by on Oct 15, 2009 in Society | 26 comments

15-Year-Old Set On Fire By Classmates

Just one of the heartbreaking details in this story is that it began on the boy’s 15th birthday. Terrified of going to school, his mother called and set an appointment with the safety officer. He never made it. Her tears lay bare the horror of it.

I believe we all should share in that horror. We carry some blame. This kind of violence, like the recent Chicago beating death of a 16-year-old caught on cellphone video, is a side-effect of our punishing culture.

Ours is the highest incarceration rate on earth. We’ve abandoned all pretense to rehabilitation. And while we’re quick to claim we put our children first, we are every bit as quick to send our kids to trial as adults.

The graphic below has been circulating around the internet (click to enlarge). While I cannot vouch for its accuracy, I can say that I’ve seen enough like it over the years to affirm that it rings true to me. When Obama said he valued empathy in a judge I thought, I do, too. But more, even, than that, I want an empathetic culture.

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