There was a time when kids were allowed to be kids. Children weren’t placed in bubbles and if they got into fights it wasn’t the end of the world; in fact, it was just part of life. Now if kids get into scuffles on the playground they could literally face jail-time.
Reason Magazine reported:
At a time when we have finally come to realize that zero tolerance policies and the school-to-prison pipeline are permanently damaging kids by saddling them with criminal records and churning them through the justice system, Missouri is going in the opposite direction. Starting this year, KFVS reports, a new statute increases the punishment when students get into a fight:
KFVS-TV reported more about the change:
The change means that if your student is caught fighting once they return back to school, they will get jail time.
Right now, if a student gets into a fight and hurts another person, they’re charged with a misdemeanor and then released to their parents.
However, with the new law going into effect on January 1, that student will now head to a juvenile detention center and be charged with a Class E felony.
That means they could spend up to four years in jail.
This is bizarre on numerous levels. Four years in jail seems extraordinarily excessive, and given that we are talking about school-age children, pretty ridiculous.
KTVI-TV quoted the Hazelwood School District’s website which alerted parents to the potential for felony charges against schoolchildren with a statewide change that sees third and fourth-degree assaults go from misdemeanors to felonies:
“Student(s) who are caught fighting in school, bus or on school grounds may now be charged with a felony (no matter the age or grade level), if this assault is witnessed by one of the School Resource Officers/police officers (SRO) or if the SRO/local law enforcement officials have to intervene.”
Sergeant Jon Broom of the Sikeston, Missouri, Department of Public Safety spoke to KVFS-TV about the changes that he reportedly hopes will deter fighting: “A felony down the road is something that will definitely hamper you down the road for sure.”
“I would definitely speak with them and talk with them and let them know just a fist fight anymore could definitely mean a felony,” he said. “Something that could follow you on down the road and could make life difficult for you.”
First of all, although it’s not a great thing for kids to get into fist fights, when did it become the end of the world? It wasn’t all that long ago when that was just a part of growing up.
That’s not to say that we should encourage it, but we certainly shouldn’t make it a felony. It seems like they are applying an adult penalty to a child’s crime, and that is absurd.