Do Teen Mistakes Warrant Felony Charges? Some Metro Detroit teens are facing felony charges in the (separate) Rochester Hills & Romeo sexting incidents and an honor roll student was just suspended an entire year for mistakenly having a pocket knife in her purse at a school football game.
Do Teen Mistakes Warrant Felony Charges?
Normally, I’m a fairly strict “rules are rules” type of father. I’d say my first instinct was to side with administration when it came to suspending the honor student (her punishment was actually reduced from expulsion). I had the same initial reaction to the separate sexting cases in Romeo and Rochester Hills. Sort of a “serves ’em right” reaction when I learned those kids are facing felony criminal charges. You may even say I’m a bit of a “hard ass.”
After letting these two stories marinate for a few days now, I’m still not sure how I feel about the punishment handed down in the Dearborn pocketknife to a football game case. I’m also not sure what to make about the sexting cases involving the high school (and junior high) students in Romeo and Rochester Hills.
Maybe I’ve been doing too much reminiscing about my own junior high / high school days. Maybe I’ve been trying to put myself behind the eyes of my own 10 and 12-year-old facing a world that is decidedly more complicated than when I grew up. Either way, when it comes to teens making stupid mistakes, I’m seeing a tremendous need to handle each case individually rather than being governed by “no tolerance,” broad-brush, thinking with no room for gray areas.
Parents my age LOVE to talk about how ROUGH we had it when we were teens… you know, “back in the day”… But, when it comes to making mistakes, there’s no way I would want to be a teenager today. As a former teen who has done SOME (but not TOO many) stupid things, I can honestly say teen life is unequivocally worse now.
I had a pocket knife when I was a kid. I imagine I may have even brought it to school on occasion accidentally. What if I was caught at my junior high school with a pocket knife? Looking back, I’m guessing the knife would have been confiscated and I might have been suspended for a day or two. There was no way I would have been expelled for an accident. Were the schools ignorant back then? No, they were just smart enough to realize that a pimply-faced B student like myself was probably just an outdoorsy kid who wasn’t going to assassinate anyone.
I’m struggling thinking of an appropriate analogy for the sexting case due to the lack of technology when I was 15… but I’ll try. As far as teen mistakes go, what if I brought a “girlie” magazine to my high school in the 80s? What would have happened to me? This one actually happened to a hormonal 9th grade friend of mine at my junior high. He brought in a Penthouse magazine and was passing it around the gym locker room. I remember his magazine was taken away and his parents were called in to the school. Outside of some MAJOR embarrassment (and being grounded by his folks), there was no suspension. I know the Penthouse vs high school girl argument is a bit of a reach but it does warrant further analysis. I think in the 80s if someone shared a risqué Polaroid picture of another student at school it would in no way dictate a felony charge.
I think teachers and administrators have a lot of questions to ask themselves before ultimately doling out some of these punishments.
Teen mistakes. Is it worth ruining an honor student’s college career over a knife accidentally brought to school? Did she have a prior history with violence or threats? Will it help the sexting kids to slap a felony charge on them? Do these teens show early signs of being sexual predators? How much will you damage their future by placing them on the National Sex Offenders List? Were you curious about sex as a teenager? Do Teen Mistakes Warrant Felony Charges?
Maybe the most important question to ask when judging a teen’s future… Did you ever do anything stupid when you were 15 years old? Do Teen Mistakes Warrant Felony Charges?