Criminalizing Normal Teenage Behavior

Filed under ‘sad but true’ comes Stephen’s post at South Texas Defense on over-criminalization being one reason he practices in juvi court:

Fighting at school is a good example. When I was growing up, if you got into a fight at school, you got detention (at school, not at a juvenile facility) or maybe, suspension. Now, thirteen year-old kids are taken into police custody and end up in court.

As a result of their dispositions in court, many of the kids will end up on probation, with a probation officer checking in on them every so often. All of this for a fight at school.

Put it down to fear.

Parents these days fear a Columbine type incident, and I don’t necessarily blame them. But the over reaction to that fear is felt in ways that they themselves are surprised at. Stephen’s post is titled “Let me get this straight, my kid is a felon?”

So in an effort to combat another Columbine in our hometown high school, we have police at the ready. For any situation.

Hey, there’s a couple of kids fighting. No need to look up the penal code to know that sounds like assault. Crime committed. Police available. Predictable result.

The principal – or other administrator in charge - that calls for the police in this situation is the one to blame. Doesn’t he remember this happened at Lincoln High every week when he was a kid? Did the police need to come “handle that situation”?

My wife often asks me if there isn’t some sort of ‘common sense’ written into the criminal laws. I keep telling her there’s not.

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Austin Criminal Defense Lawyer - April 23, 2008 12:52 AM
Maybe it’s because I’m a new parent, but I’m starting to become more interested in the topic of criminalizing normal child behavior.Ron’s Insanity is starting a collection of Crazy School Stories:I've got a file on crazy school ...
Comments (5) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
CaRoLiNe HuGhEs - April 17, 2008 11:52 AM

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rocky - November 25, 2008 4:35 AM

I really like this website for starters...
As far as this article goes...
maybe its not such a bad thing to teach the kids that if you commit a crime then you will face the consequences. I think a good scare and a brush with the real world could be just what some children and their parents need to show them why you follow the rules.

Fights at school are counteractive to the ability of schools to educate future responsible adults. The deviants from this model deserve punishment... and a detention isn't going to do anything for the particularly bad children. (Which is probably the parents fault anyways.. so make them pay the fine!)

Alec Gates - January 21, 2009 5:00 PM

yeah but come on! its primative nature. you cant help it sometimes. a felony? jesus, stick him or her in detenion and talk to the parents, and then if it continues take some serious action, this is rediculous

diana - January 11, 2011 4:32 PM

Reading that article:
While fights at school are counteractive to the schools abilities to educate,
in the state of Texas when a school fight breaks out, the teacher , in most schools, is required to NOT document the fighrt as a fight. The administration of the campus documents, to the best of its ability, anything but a fight for the sake of its own image.

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