A couple of my professional readers weren't impressed that my protagonist in The Traz--prequel to the Back Tracker Series is a 13-year old girl. One suggested I ought to make her 19. Ummm...that’s kind of an entirely different story, sir.
The readers perceived a problem with Katrina’s age because they didn't believe someone her age would be ‘allowed’ to run wild on the street bereft of adult supervision. They also didn’t think adults would establish relationships with one so young—and use her in their criminal activities.
While Katrina’s behaviour is not typical of a young teen, it’s certainly within the realm of possibility. One doesn’t have to look far to find headlines about juvenile criminal behaviour. And it’s well known to those in law enforcement and social services that adults often recruit youngsters into their criminal networks—for a variety of sinister reasons.
Youth are often insecure, in need of belonging, susceptible to peer pressure, and not very world-wise. This makes them vulnerable to both threats and promises. It makes them prime candidates to become eager customers of illicit drugs and once addicted, candidates for prostitution and other illicit activities.
Adults often overcome a youngster’s reluctance by playing up the fact youth are dealt with lightly by the court system and that they are above suspicion. Youngsters can be flattered by the adult attention they receive and often misinterpret the manipulations as trust, affection, and sometimes even love.
Although many children on the street are trying to escape terrible home lives, some are just rebellious or adventurous. Some have mental health issues and some...are born psychopaths.
It's my deepest wish that my stories about troubled children help youngsters deal more effectively with life. Just as importantly, I hope they give parents, educators, law enforcers, and other community leaders a better understanding of the darkness these kids are often both facing and fleeing.
Here’s some September 2010 headlines about youngsters engaging in evil.
Georgia baby sitter, 11, charged in death
An 11-year-old baby sitter in suburban Atlanta, Georgia, has been charged in the death of a 2-year-old, authorities said. The baby sitter is accused of felony murder and cruelty to children....
read more: http://us.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/09/21/georgia.baby.sitter/index.html
Youths to stand trial in 2011 in double slaying
Last Updated: Friday, September 17, 2010 1:21 PM MT
A 14-year-old boy from Strathcona County was charged with two counts of first-degree murder. Another 14-year-old boy from Strathcona County was charged with two counts of accessory after the fact to murder.The charges against the youths are troubling since they are both in government care, said Edmonton NDP MLA Rachel Notley.
"From our indications, [it was a] completely random incident," RCMP Cpl. Darren Anderson said of the slayings.
read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/edmonton/story/2010/09/17/edmonton-youths-trial.html#ixzz0zpzk9YgD
Teen who killed family could move to group home
Last Updated: Wednesday, June 30, 2010 4:04 PM MT
The girl was 12 when she killed her parents and younger brother in their Medicine Hat, Alta., home in 2006. The girl and her boyfriend at the time of the murders, Jeremy Steinke, 23, plotted the stabbing deaths of her mother, father and eight-year-old brother. The pair felt the girl's parents stood in the way of their relationship.
At her last review in November, the hearing heard the girl was making progress in therapy but was lagging in accepting the severity of her crimes.
read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/calgary/story/2010/06/30/medicine-hat-girl-killer-murder-family-review-home.html
Teen who killed mom gets 4 years in prison
Last Updated: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 6:33 PM MT
A Fort Macleod, Alta., teen has been sentenced to four years in prison for killing his mother with an axe. The teen, who was 17 at the time of the crime, pleaded guilty in October to second-degree murder.
"My nephew's always been troubled, and his mother did try everything possible to get him help … When this happened, we were shocked but not surprised." The woman said her sister had been seeking intensive treatment for her son for two months prior to her death.
read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/calgary/story/2010/09/14/calgary-fortmacleod-teen-axe-murder-mom-sentence.html?ref=rss&loomia_si=t0:a16:g2:r5:c0.0911214:b37339670
Would-be pot buyer slashed with meat cleaver
OTTAWA — A 14-year-old charged in connection with a robbery in which a would-be pot buyer was slashed with a meat cleaver
read more: http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Crime/2010/09/14/15351546.html
Stephenville cabin theft ring busted
Last Updated: Monday, September 13, 2010 3:19 PM NT Comments8Recommend6
Police in western Newfoundland say they've busted a ring of people who've been busy breaking into sheds and cabins over the summer. Five teenage boys and two men face more than 50 charges following a rash of break–ins and thefts in the Stephenville area.
read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/newfoundland-labrador/story/2010/09/13/nl-cabin-thefts-913.html?ref=rss&loomia_si=t0:a16:g2:r5:c0.0793184:b37275000
Canadian girls victims of human trafficking: RCMP
By Brian Lilley, Parliamentary Bureau
OTTAWA - Imani Nakpangi was sentenced to five years in jail for trafficking two underaged girls. She forced the girls, 14 and 15 years of age at the time, into prostitution while he lived lavishly off their earnings. The girls received nothing for their efforts while Nakpangi earned $400,000 over a two-year period.
Fatal Alta. ecstasy case nets guilty pleas
Last Updated: Friday, September 10, 2010 3:48 PM MT
A 17-year-old boy pleaded guilty to drug trafficking Friday during his trial on charges related to the deaths of two teens on the Paul Band First Nation in March 2009. Leah House, 14, and Trinity Bird, 15, died in hospital days after they ingested the stimulant ecstasy at a March 22, 2009, wedding celebration on the First Nation west of Edmonton.
read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/edmonton/story/2010/09/10/edmonton-guilty-pleas-ecstasy.html
Teen charged in schoolyard sex assault
By QMI Agency
CALGARY - Police have charged a 16-year-old boy in connection with an alleged sexual assault that took place at a schoolyard as a group of youths looked on.
read more: http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Crime/2010/09/10/15310556.html
Teen accused of killing his sister
By JEAN-PHILIPPE ARCAND, QMI Agency
MONTREAL – A teen accused in the slaying of his 14-year-old sister will undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine whether he’s fit to stand trial. Doctors will also determine whether he can be held criminally responsible for the alleged murder. His lawyer, Daniel Lighter, explained the 18-year-old was too ill to appear in court. “He’s schizophrenic, has psychotic episodes and hears voices.”
Read more: http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Crime/2010/09/08/15287041.html
German teens jailed for murdering ‘hero’
MUNICH, Germany - A German court handed out long jail sentences to two teens on Monday for the fatal beating of a Good Samaritan whose efforts to stop them from bullying four 13-15 year olds and trying to steal their money. The court in Munich sentenced Schiller, who is now 19, to nine years and 10 months in jail for murder and Leibinger who is now 18, to seven years for bodily harm with fatal consequences.
Boy charged in connection with stabbing
By Chris Kitching, QMI Agency
WINNIPEG - Police have charged a 16-year-old boy who allegedly stabbed a younger boy during a violent, unprovoked robbery last month. The 13-year-old victim was slashed with a knife and suffered a 20-cm cut that required 33 stitches to close.
read more: http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Crime/2010/09/03/15238281.html
For a preview of my Back Tracker series that traces Katrina’s life from the time she’s a toddler until she’s a grandmother visit: