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Mitchell: 8-year-old boy pays price for mother's neglect

Katerra Lewis, 26, of Birmingham, Alabama, is charged with manslaughter in the death of her 1-year-old daughter Kelci Devine Lewis. The toddler was beaten to death on Nov. 10, 2015, by an 8-year-old boy while Lewis was at a nightclub, Birmingham police say. Birmingham Police Department mugshot via AFP/Getty Images

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There is probably nothing I can say to a misguided young mother that is going to be appreciated.

So I’m telling you now: Many of you aren’t going to like what I’m about to say.

I know you think you are doing a good job raising your child, especially if you are raising that child alone.

But the facts show too many of you are putting your own needs before the needs of your children. There have been too many horrific incidents involving children — incidents that come down to neglect.

OPINION

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The news broke out of Birmingham, Alabama, last week that an 8-year-old boy had beaten a 1-year-old girl to death. Katerra Lewis, 26, is accused of leaving her baby, Kelci Lewis, in a house with four other children — the 8-year-old being the oldest — while she and the boy’s mother went clubbing. The boy’s mother instantly became the most-despised mom in America.

But what are we to make of an 8-year-old boy in Chicago accidentally shooting a 10-year-old relative on Thursday in Washington Heights on the city’s far South Side?

And the only way the body parts of a 2-year-old boy could end up in the Garfield Park lagoon is that a mother let that child slip out of her care. The police said little Kyrian Knox had been staying with “a family friend” before he disappeared.

In each case, where is the mothering?

Outside of physical abuse and abandonment, leaving a baby alone in a house with younger siblings has always been considered the epitome of neglect.

And while most of us might have some sympathy for a desperate mother who leaves underage kids alone while she runs out to get milk or diapers, the idea that Lewis could have left her baby in such a dangerous situation so she could party until the wee hours of morning is nauseating.

Her negligence resulted in her daughter’s death and destroyed an 8-year-old’s life.

Lewis has been charged with reckless manslaughter. The 8-year-old is being referred to as a “suspect” and is facing murder charges.

According to Birmingham police, the boy began beating the baby girl because she wouldn’t stop crying.

“No education, no school, no degree, no training could really prepare you for dealing with a crime this heinous,” Sean Edwards, a spokesman for the Birmingham Police Department, said at a news conference.

But while the 8-year-old is being painted as a monster, this crime is really about a mother’s gross negligence.

So it was hard to stomach comments made by the grandmother of the murdered child.

“Katerra is not the type of parent that they are trying to portray her as,” Waynetta Callens told reporters.

“We all will have our day in court,” the grandmother said. “Never judge a book by its cover — which means don’t try to judge from the outside.”

Apparently it made no difference to her that, according to the police, the mother didn’t even check on her baby until 10:30 am.

What this grandmother should have done is warn other young women that there is nothing in the street or in the club worth the pain her family is now going through.

What she should have said is: This is a sad day for an 8-year-old boy who now must pay for the sins of the adults in his life.

These misguided young mothers aren’t going to care one bit about what a columnist has to say.

They need to hear it from their babies’ grandmothers.

Maybe then we’ll have a shot at saving our endangered children.

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