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The family of a 15-year-old Black girl in Missouri who’s being charged with assault for allegedly beating 16-year-old Kaylee Gain, a white girl, into unconsciousness, started a petition to urge Chief Juvenile Officer Rick Gaines of the 21st Circuit Court not to charge her as an adult, according to the New York Post.

They asserted that the charged minor was the real victim, who had been bullied and harassed before the March 8 fight video.

Since the 15-year-old teen is being charged as a minor, MadameNoire will not disclose her name, but her family affirmed she was an honor roll student at Hazelwood East High School in St. Louis County with a pristine record. They highlighted that she spoke four languages, including Spanish and Korean, played the violin in the school’s orchestra, played on the school’s volleyball team, and said she’s academically excellent, having been selected for college-level AP classes.

In the petition’s description, the accused teen’s family claimed she was defending herself and had been repeatedly harassed and bullied.

“Prior to an incident on March 8th where she was seen defending herself from harassment and bullying, she had never been in trouble. Her work as a scholar was tainted by the bullying she had to endure at school,” the petition read. “However, this single event is being used to define her character and incite racial divisions and political strife, with the MO-AG calling on the courts to charge her as an adult. It is unjust that such an accomplished young woman should be charged as an adult for assault without considering all the facts of the case that led to the incident where harm occurred.”

The family stated that since the incident, they’ve received numerous “racist death threats” and were victims of doxxing.

A couple of updates have surfaced regarding Gain, including how she’s in stable condition and breathing on her own after suffering a skull fracture and frontal lobe damage. She’s now out of the ICU, according to the family’s update on GoFundMe on Friday, March 22.

However, sources came forward with new information, showing Gain has a history of fighting. Sources told the New York Post that Gain was suspended from school the day before the fight for fighting with another student who was friends with the charged 15-year-old. Gain wasn’t allowed on campus the day of the fight.

Despite sources stating Gain has a fighting and bullying history, the 15-year-old student, who is Black, was painted as the villain, mainly by white spectators, and studies show how Black girls are criminalized more than their counterparts.

A study from the Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality showed that African American girls were regarded as “less innocent” and “more adult-like” than white girls of the same age.

Studies also show that more adults have less empathy for Black girls than white girls because of the perception that white girls are more innocent than Black girls.

It’s why Black young girls are five times more likely to get suspended and 2.7 times more likely to be referred to the justice system than their counterparts. Furthermore, it’s why probation officers, judges and prosecutors have treated Black girls more punitively than others. Studies have shown that prosecutors had dismissed only roughly three out of every 10 cases for Black girls, but they dismissed seven out of 10 cases for white women.

Researchers have yet to pinpoint the source of these adultification biases, but these studies that they exist.

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