Near the Canadian border in upstate New York, state police arrested someone accused of rape. In the tiny village of Brasher Falls, NY, which has a population of just over 1,000 people, the crime was both detestable and shocking. Residents were appalled that someone allegedly committed a violent sex crime but were shocked to learn that the person state police arrested was a seven-year-old boy.

Unfortunately, few details have been released about the case and the ensuing arrest of the child rapist. Because the accused is such a young boy, law enforcement agencies are not releasing many case details to keep both the victim and perpetrators’ identities protected.

“What we know now is that the science doesn’t support the prosecution of second graders,” said Dawne Mitchell, who leads the Legal Aid Society’s juvenile rights practice.

Mitchell is part of a group of advocates who believe that New York state needs to raise its minimum age requirement for crimes. Because children lack the cognitive ability to understand the far-reaching consequences of their actions, people believe there has to be a better way to deal with child offenders than just locking them up in a detention facility.

Cases involving young offenders and victims are often traumatizing for the children, report judges, lawyers, and other juvenile justice experts, according to Yahoo News. By arresting young children and forcing them into the justice system, these children become far more likely to become repeat offenders and are taught to live a life focused around the criminal justice system rather than focus on learning skills to help them live a fruitful life.

Back in January, a nine-year-old Rochester girl was violently handcuffed and pepper-sprayed by police officers. The child was tossed into the back of a squad car with vehemence and treated like a common criminal despite her youth and mental health status.

There’s a bill in the New York legislature that would raise the age of juvenile delinquency from seven to twelve, except in the case of homicide. Many of these cases would instead go to social workers who help these children improve their lives rather than punish them.

Many organizations agree that young children should not be punished with time behind bars for certain offenses. The United Nations asked countries to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility to fourteen years old. N. Nick Perry, a New York state assemblyman from Brooklyn, agrees with increasing the age because so few cases are brought against young children in the first place.

“There are not a lot of 7-year-olds who are getting snagged in some egregious criminal charge,” said Perry, who hopes the law will be changed at the next meeting. “If something egregious does not draw the attention to the need to update or change the law, it will hang around, as improper as it is.”

Meanwhile, Mark A. Peets, supervisor of the Town of Brasher, said: “You can’t fathom a 7-year-old being arrested; you watch all these ‘true crimes’ on TV, and you just never think of a 7-year-old.”

He added, “There is right and wrong, but there has got to be some sort of social service protocol. Some sort of way to handle this without him being treated almost like an adult.”