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When a minor is charged with a heinous crime

ABC7 Chicago

  Prosecutors say two 12-year-old southeastern Wisconsin girls stabbed their 12-year-old friend nearly to death in the woods to please a mythological creature they learned about online. The girls have been charged as adults. Should the media publish their names and show their faces in its coverage? Missouri School of Journalism faculty Amy Simons, Lynda Kraxberger and Jim Flink discuss the issue.

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Several news stations, such as ABC7 in Chicago, choose not to publish the names and faces of the two 12-year-old girls. 

But some organizations like The Milwaukee Journal Sentinial have decided to reveal the youths' identities. In an article describing the incident and the girls' first appearance in court, the paper included a statement about why they chose to include the girl's names.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel normally does not name juveniles involved in crimes, but is naming the suspects because they are in adult court and because of the severity of the charges. A criminal complaint filed Monday detailed the allegations.

Associate Dean of the Missouri School of Journalism Lynda Kraxberger said as a journalist and a parent, she disagrees with the decision to publish the girls' identities.

They'll be known in their own community, but being known in your own community versus being known throughout the world and on the internet is a very different story. They will never have private lives again.

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