Each of the crimes occurred several hundred miles from here, but still the question must be asked: How can it be that young children are accused of such violent acts?

In Lake Charles, Louisiana, four girls — a 12-year-old, two 13-year-olds and a 14-year-old — are accused of stealing knives from a local Walmart and using them to kill a 15-year-old girl who also was in the store. The Calcasieu Parish sheriff said this was the third homicide involving children in the past six months.

Moss Point, a city of 14,000 on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, is reporting similar problems. Officials there put in place a curfew due to youth crime, including a home invasion Sunday that killed one person and injured another. The prior week, a 15-year-old was arrested on charges of robbing and killing a man, and in an attack on New Year’s Day, a 22-year-old died during a robbery.

Youth crime is nothing new — not even the cases when people die. What’s bothersome about the reports from Lake Charles and Moss Point is that they all occurred within a few days.

Law enforcement can only do so much. Officers cannot be everywhere. At the end of the day, it’s up to families and friends — anybody who can use their influence to dissuade young people from making a mess of their lives.

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