According to a story in the AJC, two middle schools students in Houston County allegedly engaged in oral sex in a classroom while a substitute teacher and other students were present.
Initially, they were being charged with sodomy and disruption of a public school and being held at the Crisp Youth Detention Center. But cooler minds prevailed and we are now reporting that the sodomy charges have been dropped and one of the pair has been released.
According to the latest AJC story:
Houston County Sheriff’s Lt. Randall Banks said the eighth-grade students admitted during a Houston County Juvenile Court hearing Monday to public indecency and disruption of public school.
Banks said all other charges, including sodomy and violation of probation against the male, were dismissed as part of an agreement reached between the district attorney’s office and lawyers representing the students.
I think these kids are stupid. I think they are immature. I think they are terrible examples.
I just don’t think they are serious criminals.
I fell into a long conversation Saturday with a group of parents about how bad behaviors that once earned kids lectures, rebukes and groundings are now police matters. Several had had their teenage boys in court over minor issues that would not have escalated to a criminal level a generation ago. But zero tolerance is now in full bloom.
I think that criminalizing adolescent stupidity is going to fill jails and courtrooms with unnecessary cases.
I have straight-arrow brothers, but a couple had a childhood/teenage experiences that today would have landed them in the clinker. Instead, the police brought them home and told my parents who handled the punishment and set my brothers back on the right track. My brothers went on to become highly productive and law-abiding citizens who win Yard of the Month, coach soccer and clean up after their pets.
(I was never brought home by the police, although I did have a nutty neighbor push me down and take my book bag, which I had put on the public sidewalk in front of her house while I tied my shoe. I was about 11. She maintained that part of the bag was on her lawn. The police returned my book bag to me, told me that the lady was crazy and suggested I walk to school on the other side of the street. I did.)
As we learn more about the teenage brain, we are discovering that teens are wired to make impulsive and bad decisions.Their brains don’t fully develop until their early 20s, which explains a lot about the crazy stuff that teens do.
The oversexed middle schoolers trying on adult behaviors in public setting deserve punishment. Suspend them. Transfer them to other classes or an alternative program. Get them counseling about appropriate behaviors and common decency.
But criminal charges seem extreme.
What do you think? I would ask that we not focus on the sex part of this. My issue is that kids make bad decisions based on a flawed thought process that they will outgrow, if we let them and don’t resort to locking them up for these errors of judgment.
(Also, I am not talking about 15-year-olds who commit armed robbery. Their thinking is clearly flawed, but it’s also potentially deadly and demands strong responses.)