When Kids Kill Abusive Parents

Once seen as evil or ill, these desperate youngsters are gaining new sympathy

In the tiny community of Cement, Oklahoma, trees and telephone poles are festooned with pink ribbons. People work tirelessly to collect signatures on petitions. The activity is in support of Billie Joe Powell, a 16-year-old girl charged with fatally shooting her father, who had allegedly abused her. Townspeople hope their efforts will help persuade the court to try the high school sophomore not as an adult but as a juvenile, so that she will receive more lenient treatment.

A few years ago, such sympathy would have been unheard of. Children who killed their parents were the ultimate pariahs. Regarded as evil...

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