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Before I was a Houston-area karaoke legend, I was a fourth grader who consistently received progress reports with something similar to the following:

Very bright student, but lacks focus sometimes. Is more interested in singing in class than listening.
I still sing. In the car, in the shower, and when things get unbearable in the third year of law school, in class. It's just that no one's there to write those progress reports anymore. My school room indiscretions weren't limited to testing the building's acoustics, either. With my friends, we disrupted class regularly. In Spanish, we made Senora Lockyer's life some variant of hell by answering legitimate questions with nonsensical answers like "Muy tengo." I was fond, for either lack of creativity or lack of linguistic knowledge, of responding to her inquiries with the bold claim that I did, in fact, have blue shoes.

On other occasions, we would fight. We'd bully each other in the locker room, and some kids got it worse than others. Just about everyone had their turn, though, and the sharp end of a wet towel eluded no man. In tenth grade, one kid mooned a car out of the back of the tennis bus. And on our junior year state championship golf trip, we stupidly pelted a home with eggs. At night, on occasion, we would turn up at school to spend time alone on the football field.

All of us have been juveniles at one point or another, and if we are honest with ourselves, we can think of head-scratching moments from those years. But if you are like me, your indiscretions were dealt with in detention, suspension, or maybe a good parent-teacher conference. You grew up, and the stupid things you did as a 12-year old only follow you if you're stupid enough to diary about them on this or another site.

For many of today's elementary and high school kids, though, things are changing. They're no longer afforded the room to grow. Instead, we are more and more treating in-school misbehavior as a criminal issue. Children are either ticketed or arrested for mistakes that have no business being adjudicated in the courts.

Don't believe me? Fine - just ask the 13-year old New Mexico boy who was arrested for burping in P.E.

Or the Texas couple, so enraged by the throws of a high-school relationship gone bad that they became the lactose lovers, tossing milk on one another. For that crime, they were hauled off to jail.

Or any number of bored doodlers, who are being hauled in under gang-intended graffiti statutes for transcribing such dangerous messages as:

"I love my friends Abby and Faith. Lex was here 2/1/2010."
There's no word at this point whether police took Lex's directive as a written confession. These stories might be humorous if they didn't end with children herded through the court system, their identities shaken. And the stories here are just highlights. A simple Internet search will uncover dozens of other cases that might just cause pause.

There are bigger issues at play here. Our inability to deal appropriately with our kids is not only a symptom of a broken justice system; it's also a contributing cause.

When the gun debate picked up fire last month, one of the most popular proposals centered on putting more police officers in school. Those officers would presumably be in a school to play the role of movie-like defender in the rare instance that some deranged gunman targets kids. But what does that officer do on those days when his job as a sentry doesn't turn up a killer?

In most schools, he's deployed as a de-facto enforcer. Without specific training on dealing with juveniles, he's left to employ the only kind of justice he knows - putting people in handcuffs for causing trouble. The consequence of placing more police officers in schools is that those officers are put to use. They're called in to deal with situations that might have been better left to the athletic director, the vice principal, or even the teacher. Studies have shown a positive correlation between police officer presence and arrest numbers in schools. Simply put - when put there, police officers are going to do what police officers do.

Literally thousands of students are arrested in our high schools and elementary schools each year. In places like Texas, it's much more likely that these kids will receive tickets. Texas treats many things - including traffic tickets - as class C misdemeanors. These are non-arrestable offenses still handled by the criminal courts. Since they carry no possibility of jail time, people accused of these crimes do not receive court-appointed counsel, nor do they receive the sort of due process that follows a normal criminal proceeding.

For poor families, tickets can carry many additional expenses. First comes the cost of the ticket, which can be as much as $500. In addition, the parent will have to take time off of work to make a cumbersome trip to a local court. Because the matter's processed in the criminal system, all of the usual risks apply for students. If they're late for court or they happen to miss a court date, they can be arrested on bench warrants. Likewise, these courts do not offer the anonymity protections afforded to students in juvenile courts. Where records are sealed in juvenile courts, they become a part of the public record in misdemeanor court. It's an ugly practice that has the potential to scar a student's record permanently over something that might have been better dealt with at the school level.

It's difficult to discuss criminal justice matters without touching on race, and this issue is no different. Would it surprise you to learn that minorities are ticketed and arrested at higher rates than their white counterparts? The Washington Post reported on this issue:

Overall, the data showed that 96,000 students were arrested and 242,000 were “referred” to law enforcement by school leaders, meaning the students were not necessarily arrested or cited.

In a more focused analysis of school systems with more than 50,000 students enrolled, the data showed that African American students represented 24 percent of enrollment but 35 percent of arrests. White students accounted for 31 percent of enrollment and 21 percent of arrests. For Hispanic students, there was less of a disparity in arrests. They accounted for 34 percent of enrollment and 37 percent of arrests.

That's right - nearly 100,000 children arrested, right in their school. And non-white kids seem to miss out on the benefit of the doubt that a white student might get for throwing his or her airplane in class.

But the real question has to do with the consequences of these policies. Just what sort of society are we creating? Juvenile justice advocate Bryan Stevenson has spoken and written at length about the life-altering effect of identity. His point is well-measured and well-taken: when you tell and show a kid over and over that he's supposed to be something or another, he'll end up being that something.

When I was 17, I received a pre-season football honor. It was somewhat unexpected, but set the stage for what was a good season on my part. After the first game of that season, when I'd made a big play late in a win, one of my teammates' dads approached me. He said something that's stuck with me, and it's applicable here:

"If you give a dog a good name, he'll answer to it."
This is also true for our juvenile offenders. When we call them criminals, expose them to the system, and administer harsh punishments for mundane acts, we transform them into something that no one wants to see. Even in places like Georgia, they can recognize the cause and effect that occurs when you make a wider criminal net your juvenile policy:
"We know from the research that if you arrest a kid on campus, he’s twice as likely not to graduate," Clayton County Juvenile Court Judge Steven Teske said. "If they appear in court, they’re four times as likely not to graduate."
There's certainly something to the idea that kids less likely to graduate in the first place will be more likely to commit offenses, so the arrest itself may not be the tipping point for all kids. But it'd be unwise to ignore the flip side of that correlation, where shipping a child into the juvenile justice system produces as many problems as it solves.

A Princeton study supports the idea that interaction with the juvenile justice system is linked to negative education outcomes, even when other relevant factors are controlled for. That study notes some of the important practical concerns for students in the pipeline. Their court settings cause them to miss school and fall behind on assignments. They can experience some form of social anxiety and mistreatment from their peers. The factors are many, even without considering the psychological effect on a child.

It doesn't take a brain scientist to know that education is correlated to economic outcomes, with high school dropouts making up a large portion of the poverty-level citizenry. In essence, our willingness and desire to deploy police officers to situations where very little harm is caused will contribute to poverty. It will contribute to the sort of disenfranchisement that leads to real, adult crime. When kids are stripped of opportunity, told they're criminals, and ushered out of the mainstream, their limited options often foretells a future of criminal activity.

We have ourselves to blame for this problem. Our laziness and apathy has manifested itself in a juvenile justice apparatus that is anything but prepared to administer justice. It's out of sight, out of mind, and many don't care. While in our schools, 12-year olds are getting their first taste of the criminal life by throwing well-aimed airplanes.  

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Comment Preferences

  •  but then again (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    commonmass, Nance

    is the classroom education system with the bells and desks and all that stuff that much different from prison? Michel Foucault et al...

    •  Have you ever been arrested? (7+ / 0-)

      I would imagine that for a child, it would be quite traumatic. Plus, though I've never been arrested, I did have to go to the police department once for questioning when I was a kid. It was scary.

      Don't get me wrong. I absolutely hated school growing up. I went to a lot of them, and it was just awful. But just being in the police department and being questioned was a whole different ballgame.

      Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

      by moviemeister76 on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 01:05:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Define arrested (0+ / 0-)

        I mean, before you ask, yes, I've been arrested by police.

        I've also been by people.

        In both cases, people with more power restrained my ability to move about.

        I vastly prefer the police case (we're talking about sane countries like US here). They are bound by law, by and large, and an adult can deal with it.

        A schoolchild has nowhere near that kind of understanding, and the experience is more frightening.

        That's just to answer your 'arrest' question. I wasn't going to go there. Have you read Foucault?

        •  o great markup error (0+ / 0-)
          I've also been by people.
          Should read

          "I've also [had my freedom restricted but not arrested] by people [with all trappings of authority but not police]." Something like that.

          They were called "teacher" or something in that particular instance.

          Not that that has anything to do with true teachers. But that is not what we're discussing, is it. De facto, a system is prison-like in many cases. (Look at bars on windows, is that not good enough?).

          •  your teachers put you in handcuffs, threw you in (4+ / 0-)

            the back of a patrol car, transported you to jail and held you in a cell with 10 other people with whom you shared 6 bunks and 1 toilet while you waited 3 days for the on site magistrate to release you RoR?

            Tough school.

            •  no they didn't (0+ / 0-)

              and your point is that only the experience you described qualifies as jail?

              looks like you're describing an adult's experience too -- just checking here.

              I'm not complaining about my school experience - nor amI complaining about my arrest -- it's all part of a process. But the general idea is interesting.

              You may not like it viscerally, somehow, but then again, who reads Foucault these days, he's too french, and sounds like a pendulum and all that.

        •  Pacific Film Archive (0+ / 0-)

          in Berkeley is showing an ancient silent movie filmed in one of the Central Asian Republics, meant to emulate an unnamed South American petrostate. One of the scenes is set in a location described as "the perfect panoptical prison." I thought of Foucault immediately (as did, I'm sure, the person writing the blurb).

        •  I have read Foucault (0+ / 0-)

          I don't think everyone shares your view of the law and the police. Some people are far more scared of police than teachers, for very valid reasons.

          Yes, in a school, students can be held beyond their control. However, the pervasiveness of fear which abounds in a police department is on a completely different level from a school.

          I do see schools as a type of prison, but to suggest that schools are equal to being arrested and held in jail, I find to be completely wrong.

          Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

          by moviemeister76 on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 11:04:25 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  No. School is nothing like prison (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Batya the Toon, wilderness voice

      despite all the rules and bells and supervision.

      All knowledge is worth having. Check out OctopodiCon to support steampunk learning and fun. Also, on DKos, check out the Itzl Alert Network.

      by Noddy on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 07:19:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  times have changed; granted we were a small (7+ / 0-)

    rural school but the trunks and pick-up gun racks contained rifles and shotguns for before school duck hunting or after school deer hunting and there was usually a pistol under the seat for carrying along fishing when it was that time of year.

    Then the shop teacher required all of his students to carry utility knives and those of us whose parents picked us up after lunch so we could spend the afternoon plowing or disking or planting usually carried at least 2 knives as routine, one to bust seed sacks and such and another which was sharp enough to shave with.

    Times have changed as a couple of years ago, a girl was expelled for having a Midol in her purse and another student was expelled when an expended shotgun was spotted in the back of his pickup.  (yep, expended brass counts the same as a live round that counts the same as an actual weapon)  

    •  so (0+ / 0-)

      is that good or bad? that times have changed?

      •  dunno; just an observation as my grandmother (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wilderness voice, Calamity Jean

        died in 1967 due to pneumonia which would have been knocked out by antibiotics today so some changes are positive while others are not so much so

      •  In these cases--bad (3+ / 0-)

        This focus on the trivial causes many societal problems, such as contempt for all rules because so many are inane. The associated paranoia of not conforming, of being in violation of some inconsequential law, changes behavior.  There are so many trivial rules, and so many of these rules have egregious consequences when violated, that the attitudes of citizens have changed to one of isolated individualism from what was once pride in community membership.

        When a teenager can be expelled for having a penknife in his pocket you have crossed the line into ridiculous.  We of the past generations lived with stupid rules, but the penalties for violation were not egregious.  We have finally succeeded in fostering a police-state mentality, and we have become willing to accept excessive restrictions on our freedom because we have been convinced that our safety depends on it.  We are now accepting of huge databases, collecting every aspect of our lives, and we accept that the information in these databases is correct (ALL databases contain errors), and we are happy to allow our government to collect because our government only wants to keep us safe. If an individual fails to conform to the rules of The Homeland he will be ostracised and dealt with "appropriately".  This goes as much for the Kos as it does for Red State, and it is a simple reflection of the society as a whole.

    •  Why did you need (0+ / 0-)

      a pistol to go fishing?

  •  Tossing milk on one another (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bush Bites, surelyujest

    I once had an ex-friend do that to me at lunch, twice within one week. I had to spend the rest of the day in a shirt that was wet for quite some time, and then horribly smelly. And the teachers in charge wouldn't do anything because no one had actually seen the friend pour the milk over me. So if you expect me to be outraged that anyone was arrested for that, quite frankly, you're barking up the wrong tree. That sort of thing is abuse, and it richly deserves to be treated as such.

    Certaines personnes disent qu'il y a une femme à blâmer, Mais je sais que c'est ma faute sacrément.

    by RamblinDave on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 02:31:27 AM PST

    •  this post (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BvueDem, Clues

      is crying over spilt milk.

    •  I can't quite tell if this is a joke (4+ / 0-)

      or if you're actually ok with middle schoolers going to court over pouring milk on one another in the midst of a break up.

      I suppose that could be your opinion. But it would be one more piece of evidence that supports the idea that people go completely insane on criminal justice issues when they have any sort of vested interest.

      "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

      by Grizzard on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 03:15:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, I wouldn't go that far (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bush Bites

        But I also take issue with the way you seem to trivialize that sort of behavior in your diary. The fact that people have taken these things to such an extreme is, in part, a reaction to the way bullies got away with that sort of behavior for so long. I reject both extremes, but my outrage at what you describe is necessarily limited, even as I recognize it is going too far.

        Certaines personnes disent qu'il y a une femme à blâmer, Mais je sais que c'est ma faute sacrément.

        by RamblinDave on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 03:57:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well that's the point (3+ / 0-)

          When we fail to constrain our "outrage" over these things (and we should, because we're talking about kids, who are largely products of their environment AND who lack the fully formed pre-frontal cortex that begets better decision making), we allow for outcomes that produce bigger problems than they're designed to solve.

          Solving the problem of a girl putting on perfume in class (yes, some girl was arrested for this, in Texas), we create a person much less likely to graduate, a person who now identifies as a criminal, and a person with eroded human capital skills and enhanced criminal capital skills.

          Is it really worth it? Even for kids who do things like throwing milk on the girl/boy who just broke up with them.

          And I should state, again, just so we're clear. The opposing view on "WHY THE HELL ARE WE RUNNING THESE KIDS THROUGH THE COURTS?" is not "HAHAHAHA, NO CONSEQUENCES!"

          Instead, it's "these kids are young, and exposure to the court system produces effects we don't want, so why don't we do everything in our power to come up with extra-judicial solutions/punishments that keep kids out of the courts?"

          "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

          by Grizzard on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 07:29:22 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  You grew out of it. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RamblinDave

        A lot of people don't.

        And that short sharp shock of a trip to the police station and an enraged father having to drag them home can sometimes stop them from going through their lives thinking they can get away with pissing on people until they wind up in real trouble.

        "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

        by Bush Bites on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 04:02:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  See this is inherently naive (4+ / 0-)

          and it's an idealized version of the way the courts work. You don't just get a good scare and then head home. You get a record. That follows you. In some cases, you spend time in juvenile detention, where your human capital skills erode and your prison capital skills develop. You identify, psychologically, as a criminal offender. These consequences are real, and they've been proven in study after study. The thrust of those studies is simple - we should prevent exposing our children to the court system as much as is humanly possible. For some crimes, there is no way around it. For others, we're creating bigger problems than we're solving.

          And you also have an idealized version of the kind of person who gets in trouble in school. If they had an "enraged" (in the sense that the father would be engaged enough to care that much) father, they would be much less likely to both do "bad" things at school and get arrested for it. The kids disproportionately represented in all of this are those kids who come from broken homes, where there is no parental support.

          IE - the people most likely to be positively affected by the experience you mentioned are two things:

          1) More likely to correct their behavior anyway, since they have a parent who cares enough and would discipline them even without a court setting

          and

          2) Less likely to be arrested in the first place, since it's primarily those kids without such a support system that get targeted for ticketing and arrest.

          "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

          by Grizzard on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 07:24:53 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  And we won't even go into the possibilities... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RamblinDave

        ....of a Columbine-type situation, except to note that such things do happen when nobody puts a stop to your "play."

        "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

        by Bush Bites on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 04:05:03 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Boy do you love to deal in the absurd (4+ / 0-)

          and attack positions I never took.

          No one, not even me, suggested that no one should "put a stop" to my "play." The suggestion was that those things - like a person burping in class or two people tossing milk on each other - can be effectively dealt with by vigilant principals and school administrators. And they can be dealt with, if necessary, with suspension, detention, or a host of other penalties.

          I see no reason to shape the entirety of juvenile policy on your perceptions of what "Columbine-type situations" might happen if we don't process our mischievous youth in the court system. That seems to be a piece of demagoguery I'm uncomfortable with.

           

          "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

          by Grizzard on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 07:19:29 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  The diarist was a trouble maker. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RamblinDave

      So, of course, he's taking the trouble makers' side.

      "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

      by Bush Bites on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 03:57:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It is assault. (0+ / 0-)

      And possibly sexual harassment.  

  •  We are less civilized here in 3rd World SE Asia: (5+ / 0-)

    A couple of weeks ago, my 8 year-old son went on his first campout away from school grounds. He was so excited, he was showing his camping knife to his friends during school. This was considered normal behavior. He has also brought a dart gun (the harmless ones with plastic tips) to school and he draws super heroes shooting each other, with the characters saying "I am going to kill you" in the speech bubbles.

    I sleep a lot better knowing that these kinds of behavior have not been criminalized here.

    I voted with my feet. Good Bye and Good Luck America!!

    by shann on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 03:31:36 AM PST

  •  Um, you should have been arrested... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Flying Goat, Cassandra Waites

    ...for egging the house.

    That was vandalism.

    Your record would have been expunged when you were 18.

    "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

    by Bush Bites on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 03:56:38 AM PST

    •  it probably would have been since he's white. (0+ / 0-)

      anyone else, probably not.

      relax relate release

      by terrypinder on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 06:04:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, I can only speak to my own experiences... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wilderness voice

        and the young man who criminally sexually assaulted my daughter in shop class is African American and his record will be expunged as soon as he finishes his probation next month, so I guess that kind of makes your broad presumption look rather broad and presumptuous.  In my view.
        And yet, the memory and damage of the crime against her will never be expunged from my daughter's psyche--nor mine.
        I never even knew the racial or ethnic background of the kid when I went to the police and didn't find out until after the report was filed.  But I did find out later that the offender's racial background likely played a role in how the school handled the crime.
        All that matters to me is what he did, not what he looks like.  And because I am who I am and believe what I believe, I can understand why you say what you said, but criminals deserve to be punished, no matter the skin tone and yes, African American sex offenders can plea bargain and get lesser sentences and have their records expunged.
        It is one thing to advocate and be honest about the reality of racial disparity--it is entirely different thing to make assumptions and broad statements that are your opinion and not necessarily fact or truth.

    •  In general, I agree with the diarist.... (0+ / 0-)

      But for egging the house specifically, I think getting arrested is warranted.

    •  Do you know how much it costs to expunge a record? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Noddy, kmoore61, wilderness voice

      In some states, it's many hundreds of dollars. In one I know of, it's $1,000. Some even require a lawyer to do it.

      Despite my lily white looks, my parents would have had to pawn something to make that happen. And for the kids most likely to be arrested for doing something that high schoolers do, their parents couldn't dream of coming up with $1k in disposable income to spend on something like that.

      And that's the thrust of the diary. These laws primarily disadvantage kids who already have enough disadvantages. And they create just as many problems as they correct.

      Your moral outrage in this diary is noted. But your need to exercise that moral position by locking up a mundane high school troublemaker - is that enough to overcome the clear negatives that this sort of policy brings on society? More poverty? More crime (of a more serious nature) later? All so you can feel good about putting high school milk throwers in jail?

      "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

      by Grizzard on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 07:03:41 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm inclined to think (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wilderness voice, Calamity Jean

      that arresting a kid at school for something that is a crime outside of school is entirely different from arresting a kid for something that breaks only school rules.  The former can be argued; the latter is indefensible.

    •  In my day (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wilderness voice, Calamity Jean

      Getting caught for the "crime" of egging a house would result in the perpetrator cleaning up the mess and repairing the damage, if any.  Not exactly arrest and having a record but an effective deterrent, none the less.  Even the wronged homeowner would get a grin or two out of it.  That was how these horrible crimes were dealt with in the bad old days.  Kids didn't go to jail for stealing watermelons, either--it was kind of expected.  A food fight in the cafeteria would result in those involved cleaning the mess, detention and a conference with parents, and maybe writing 100 times on the blackboard "I will not play with my food".  These consequences were unpleasant and effective.  When did this society decide that arrest was appropriate for teenager's stupidities?

    •  Only if you have around ten thousand dollars (0+ / 0-)

      for court costs and lawyers fees assuming they are willing to expunge the record, if not it could be over a million as they fight it all the way up to the state supreme court.

      You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

      by Throw The Bums Out on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 11:47:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Tipped & rec'ed nt (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    glorificus, Grizzard, kmoore61
  •  ORLY? (4+ / 0-)
    We'd bully each other in the locker room
    Since I was forbidden to be anything but a pacifist as a child how exactly did I dish it out?

    History rewrite as far as I'm concerned

    "Til you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules" John Lennon - Working Class Hero

    by Horace Boothroyd III on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 05:01:42 AM PST

    •  What are you talking about? (0+ / 0-)

      I was clearly referring to my experience, as can be inferred from like 1022902 context clues in that paragraph and the ones surrounding it.

      Unless you, too, had a Ms. Lockyer who taught you Spanish. In which case, what a hilarious misunderstanding (hat tip Flight of the Conchords).

      "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

      by Grizzard on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 06:57:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Agreed that bullying is unacceptable... (0+ / 0-)

      ....although it never stopped until I fought the bully(ies).

      Pacifism only works if the other party can be shamed by the exposure of their bullying.

      9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

      by varro on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 07:01:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I broke a kids arm in kindergarten. (0+ / 0-)

        I wasn't allowed to hit anyone lest I kill them.

        The commenter is blissfully unaware there were those in that lockeroom that were not willing participants. Until we make an effort to uncover this bullying will not stop because no one sees it. The comment above is a perfect example of it.

        "Til you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules" John Lennon - Working Class Hero

        by Horace Boothroyd III on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 07:05:09 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, I am fully aware (0+ / 0-)

          at some points, I was one of those people. I got put into a trashcan as a ninth grader on the night we won our state championship. It wasn't until I got good that I became mostly immune to it.

          I should note, that in my diary, the section on what some might call "bullying" is a bit unclear. Much of that section was in reference to what went on between and among me and my friends, and that portion is a part of that. When I see "we" in that context, I mean that among our group of friends, no one was immune from a little locker room bullying.

          We were similarly situated, and it was among willing participants.

          That's obviously quite different from the sort of bullying that even I was a party to when I was younger, and smaller. Which really only involved one willing actor.

          But even so, I wouldn't want my aggressor being hauled into court. I believe there is a happy medium, where we aren't thrusting our criminal justice system (with all of its warts) onto kids, but we aren't ignoring the stupid and/or mean things they do, either.

          "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

          by Grizzard on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 07:45:26 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  If you egged my house I'd want you arrested (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RamblinDave
    And on our junior year state championship golf trip, we stupidly pelted a home with eggs.
    Stupid's the right word----consequences are the solution to stupid vandalism.

    Happy just to be alive

    by exlrrp on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 05:47:59 AM PST

    •  Really? (0+ / 0-)

      You can't think of anything short of arrest to deal with a dumb teenager?

      •  It goes beyond that (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        exlrrp

        Vandalism is a crime, period. I don't like the idea of arresting a "dumb teenager," but it might be just what s/he needs to get over the dumbness.

        Certaines personnes disent qu'il y a une femme à blâmer, Mais je sais que c'est ma faute sacrément.

        by RamblinDave on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 06:21:03 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Excuse me? The best solution (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Grizzard, Mrs M, kmoore61, Calamity Jean

          is not arrest, but making the kids clean up the mess they caused.

          I live right behind a high school football field. The houses and trees on our block frequently get dressed with toilet paper and eggs and cars get the windows covered in shoe polish.  Those high-spirited kids don't get arrested, they get put to work cleaning up their mess.

          What's happened is that over the years, it's become tradition for the younger kids to make the messes and the older kids to supervise the clean-up.

          Even though my car rarely comes in for the shoe polish treatment, the kids still come through the neighborhood after a huge game and offer to wash the cars for free. They remove as much toilet paper as they can (I taught them the trick of washing the toilet paper out of the trees so they get almost all of it now).

          Yeah, it's a pain to wake up to smashed pumpkins, egged cars and homes, toilet papered trees, and shoe polished cars, but arresting the kids wouldn't stop it, because the next class would do the same thing. It would only mean they wouldn't fess up and clean up afterwards and then I would be the one who would have to take the time to do the cleaning up.

          Plus, the kids learn some important lessons - it's OK to be high spirited, it's OK to make a mess, as long as you fess up and clean up. You aren't a criminal.

          So I have bright-faced, smiling teens knocking on my door asking if I want my car washed, the outside of my house washed, and see them cleaning up the messes in the street.  Our neighborhood never looks so good as it does 2 days after a big game.

          And before you say, "Well, white kids always get a pass", most of these kids are not white. They are not criminals.  They are kids and they deserve a chance to learn and to make things right.

          Arresting them is going to accomplish only negative things. It's punishment not just for the kid, but for those whose homes and cars got hit.

          All knowledge is worth having. Check out OctopodiCon to support steampunk learning and fun. Also, on DKos, check out the Itzl Alert Network.

          by Noddy on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 07:40:54 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  "Burping in class is a crime, period. I don't like (0+ / 0-)

          the idea of arresting a "dumb teenager," but it might be just what s/he needs to get over the dumbness."

          You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

          by Throw The Bums Out on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 11:48:19 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Right... (0+ / 0-)

            ...because burping in class is just as serious as vandalism. Even if I agreed that arresting vandals was overkill, your analogy would still be absurd.

            Certaines personnes disent qu'il y a une femme à blâmer, Mais je sais que c'est ma faute sacrément.

            by RamblinDave on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 06:08:17 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Well it is disorderly conduct which is a crime, (0+ / 0-)

              right?  And people should be arrested for crimes whether it be vandalism or disorderly conduct.

              You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

              by Throw The Bums Out on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 11:45:30 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Nope. Didn't say that. (0+ / 0-)

                I said vandalism was sufficiently serious that an arrest was warranted. That has absolutely nothing to do with burping in class, which is rude but harmless.

                Certaines personnes disent qu'il y a une femme à blâmer, Mais je sais que c'est ma faute sacrément.

                by RamblinDave on Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 01:22:22 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  But you're wrong, Dave. (0+ / 0-)

                  Arresting a teen for being annoying is not a rational response. TPing a house, egging a house, burping, whatever it is that ticks the old people off -- arresting a teen is not the appropriate response. It is an overreaction, a move to call in law enforcement because the old people are incapable of dealing with actual living teenagers.

                  •  I think this is right (0+ / 0-)

                    But more, I think we need to recognize that the costs of dealing with these things in the courts are much more than the benefits.

                    "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

                    by Grizzard on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 09:56:42 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Costs vs Benefits I can see... (0+ / 0-)

                      ...But I still reject the idea that vandalism is harmless, or comparable to burping in class. You can argue that arresting the kids for vandalism is too harsh, but IME you can't argue that it's no worse than burping in class. I actually find the analogy rather insulting, as someone who did often have to worry about what the neighborhood bullies might pull on my house growing up.

                      Certaines personnes disent qu'il y a une femme à blâmer, Mais je sais que c'est ma faute sacrément.

                      by RamblinDave on Tue Mar 05, 2013 at 07:41:05 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

      •  Might make a difference in his life (0+ / 0-)

        might actually convince him that he doesn't want to go there again.
        I was arrested for shoplifting in the 9th grade and taken to jail (released to angy parents) and I never did that again. (and was only arrested once again, in a Vietam war demonstration)

        my brother's house was egged and TP'd and I helped him clean it up. It was a mess, thrown on there by spoiled brats for NO reason at all.
        So you betcha!! if theyre old enought to vandalize a house there should be consequences.

        (No I don't mean they should be brutalized, just arrested)

        Happy just to be alive

        by exlrrp on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 06:24:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Grizzard, once again I mostly agree with your (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RamblinDave

    position and applaud your passionate effort to bring awareness to the very real dangers of for-profit justice aimed at youth...
    Yet, again, I have to say that when a twelve year old boy--not a man, a boy--criminally sexually assaults your twelve year daughter in a public school classroom--repeatedly--it looks different.  Justice is painful, as is the crime, but surely you can agree that there are crimes so damaging that even children must be prosecuted?  
    And what happens when the public school puts the perpetrator's due process rights before the victim's rights?  You know that schools are not governed under the same laws as criminal and civil law, right?  In other words, the justice system has no jurisdiction over the school's decision to expel or discipline etc and the school does not have to in any way punish criminal activity as such.  The only thing the school has to do is follow educational law and good luck keeping them honest about it.  I could tell you story that would make your hair turn gray and your stomach turn.  Trust me, if it is your daughter you will not choose deference to the juvenile sex offender over your own child's rights and well being, no matter how difficult the choice is to put a young person through 'the system'.
    Again, I basically agree with your position.  However, and it's a big 'however', I do not for one minute regret my decision to press charges against the kid who molested my child and forced himself on her and violated her and victimized her.  He was not arrested in school, the school protected themselves and in doing so nearly prevented justice from taking place for my child and put every other female student in contact with the kid at risk.
    Grizzard...do you believe mainstreaming juvenile sex offenders is a good idea?  Do you think that letting criminal sex offenders go back into public school classrooms after time served is appropriate, safe or justifiable?  I do not.  I believe mainstreaming sex offenders is a really bad idea.

    •  More... (0+ / 0-)

      also, as you probably know, in the court system there are many 'pathways' or variations for sentencing sex offenders and when it is a juvenile commiting the crime, at least in MI the court bases charges and sentencing on factors like the age of the youth and whether or not there was penetration and whether or not it was a first offense.  For the offender, if they are under the age of 13 and it's a first offense, it is almost a sure thing they can plea it down to assault and battery, only get probation rather than detention, and the crime is expunged.  As for the public school, they are at will to decide whether or not to expel, and at most can only do so for up to 180 days, then under FAPE law the offender can go back to school and his rights must be protected to do so.  
      Then, while the court is obligated to notify the school district of the crime and charges, the school district is not obligated to notify either the victim or the community, and in fact, is obligated to protect the offenders privacy because they are a minor.
      How is that justice?  How is that in the public interest?
      Also, sex offender registries for juveniles, at least as far as I am aware, vary by state.  Here in MI it is not a matter of public record.
      In my case the parents of the perpetrator pulled him out of my district voluntarily and sent him to another school district (private) so my district never even had to answer for the fact that these crimes were committed in their classroom--by a school of choice student who was a paying guest to begin with.
      Sometimes the justice system, the courts, are the only answer, the only way to intervene and punish and protect.

    •  I'm not really sure what you're getting at (4+ / 0-)

      This is a diary about how the system is currently criminalizing school yard misbehavior (i.e. punishing through the courts things that could and should be dealt with in-house).

      I have no idea how you inferred from that that people who commit sex crimes should be "mainstreamed."

      It'd be akin to me writing an article about how the police are now criminalizing (too often) people listening to their music too loud in a non-convertible car, and you asking me if I really want to let hit and run killers go free. Yes, both things happen in a car. Just like the things you mention above happen in schools. But there's a reason the stories linked in the article, and the experiences detailed there do not constitute serious crimes that cause serious harm.

      "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

      by Grizzard on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 07:14:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Can we still call it "finger" painting? (0+ / 0-)

    Someone had to ask?

    I'm no philosopher, I am no poet, I'm just trying to help you out - Gomez (from the song Hamoa Beach)

    by jhecht on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 06:23:21 AM PST

  •  I always forget, when writing articles on crime (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    detroitmechworks, starfu

    police, that few places on the internet have more occupied moral high ground than this website.

    All "good" people, all the time.  

    And few places more full of people willing to pull one sentence out of a long diary rather than dealing with the very real points and problems highlighted in the diary.

    Remarkable, really.

    "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

    by Grizzard on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 06:55:37 AM PST

    •  And I should say (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      starfu

      It's a poor miscalculation on my part. I should know that by now that Kossacks are only willing to deal with the realities of a broken system if those realities are brought to them by a fellow warrior who does and has always occupied the moral high ground.

      Otherwise, the urge to seek internet back pats is just too strong.

      This is why terrible crime policy persists. Even the good guys - the people who are supposed to care about the poor, disenfranchised, the marginalized - are in the bag on draconian measures. Because, after all, who doesn't like to flex his or her moral superiority every now and then. And that's what the criminal justice system's become, largely. We view each offense as an opportunity to show how good we are in comparison to that mistake maker, rather than treating crimes as the tragedies that they are, taking time to reflect on the causes in order to improve the situation.

      "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

      by Grizzard on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 07:08:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Toss in the "Call the cops" for the parents, too. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Grizzard, wilderness voice

    Since if you're late, the teachers don't stay late and try to get in touch with you anymore.  They call the police to get your kid.

    Kid refuses to wear a clean shirt to school?  Call CPS.  Clearly the parents are abusive.

    It just goes on and on.  Choosing to be a parent is choosing to be be a suspect.

    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 07:20:24 AM PST

    •  I saw, for a time, a teacher in my city (0+ / 0-)

      really liked her. Young (24 or so), just out of college. Working at a school with mostly poor, minority students.

      Only problem was she would always mull over with me her decisions on when to get CPS involved. For instance, it's February in Houston (HOUSTON!) and a kid comes to school without a coat. Should I call CPS?

      I'm all for protecting kids when there is some legitimate showing of danger. But not having a court on a day when the temperature is likely to rise above 70 is not a CPS-able offense (in my estimation).

      And there were many concerns like the ones you've mentioned here.

      It really sucks to be poor.

      "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

      by Grizzard on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 07:35:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  If I were a student today, (4+ / 0-)

    I'd be spending most of my life behind bars.

    Tying shoelaces together so other students would trip, injecting the teachers lounge chocolates with everclear, locking teachers into paper mache eggs, leading a revolt in math class, inspiring a riot in English, painting the trees on the school yard, repainting the playground equipment, fart cushions in the teacher's chair, hollowing out the pencils and filling them with crayons, leading a burp "choir" to "sing" the National Anthem during assembly...

    I was not a mean or bad kid, but I was definitely high spirited and likely to lead others into trouble.

    How do you think I learned how to clean a toilet papered tree, or to clean shoe polish from car windows, or how best to remove eggs from siding, brick, and paint?

    All knowledge is worth having. Check out OctopodiCon to support steampunk learning and fun. Also, on DKos, check out the Itzl Alert Network.

    by Noddy on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 07:52:02 AM PST

    •  I don't see why it's necessary (3+ / 0-)

      for people to pretend as if their lives have been filled with nothing but good decisions. We're all human. We've all done stupid things. For most of us, the proportion of stupid things has decreased with age. But I believe effectively dealing with the criminal justice system requires us to recognize the difference in decision making facilities in kids. That's about more than just reading the science. It's about reflecting on our own experiences, on our own "worst moments." So that we can frame the science.

      That's what you've done here, and your points in this thread are well-taken.

      "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

      by Grizzard on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 08:00:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh my, if we were to chronicle (3+ / 0-)

        all the bad decisions and plain thoughtless behavior in which I've engaged, I'd have had a revolving cell starting at the ripe age of 2 (when I shaved the dog and the cat, then painted them with "measles")!

        And I'd have never bought that yellow dress, or those kill me now stilettos, or tried to get to Woodstock in a farm tractor from Texas...

        I probably wouldn't have married my ex - just lived "in sin" - it would have been much cheaper and I would still have some of my nice things.

        Life is about making mistakes and learning with help from others.  Clapping people in prison when they do stupid stuff teaches nothing but bad things.

        Now, we're talking stupid as in shoe polishing car windows and injecting everclear into chocolates stupid, not violent acts like rape, assault, murder...

        All knowledge is worth having. Check out OctopodiCon to support steampunk learning and fun. Also, on DKos, check out the Itzl Alert Network.

        by Noddy on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 08:29:01 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  amen. while we are at it... (0+ / 0-)

    let's release those schoolshooters as well.  Boys will be boys, after all.

    •  Thanks for your unreasonable contribution (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sfarkash

      to this discussion.

      I'll ask - was the subject matter of this diary so difficult for you to digest that your desire to comment so outpaced your ability to contribute?

      Because this comment is donut-worthy. It misstates the diary's position, and assigns absurd conclusions that I did not remotely make.

      "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

      by Grizzard on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 10:29:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The comment is directly applicable... (0+ / 0-)

        To Your defense of bullying.  If we aren't going to punish bullies for their crimes, why punish schoolshooters - who, incidentally are responsible for far fewer deaths.  Or do you only think that the crimes you committed are the ones that shouldn't be punished?

        Sorry if you don't like the implications.  

        •  My "defense" of bullying (0+ / 0-)

          is about as real as my mythical "defense" of school murder.

          It's beyond the point of this diary, but if you believe the culpability for "bullying" (and all this encompasses) is the same as the culpability for mass murder, then you're welcome to tread that path without me. It's an untrained legal opinion in my opinion.

          But the important point that appears to be lost on you is that there's a more effective way for society to deal with its school misconduct than to create more problems by churning kids up in the juvenile justice system. I advocate more responsible in-school enforcement, which CAN protect kids from other kids while not producing, en mass, a generation of new criminals.

          I know these distinctions are fine. And I recognize the implicit difficulty in recognizing fine distinctions for a person who believes murder and bullying have equal culpability.

          "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

          by Grizzard on Thu Feb 28, 2013 at 11:09:14 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Your diaries are fantastic! (0+ / 0-)

    It's sad that people are so judgmental and unwilling to give kids a break. Zero tolerance policies have become ridiculous and result in punishing without regard for common sense. Why do we want to turn our children into compliant little robots instead of helping them learn to use good judgment?!!

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