Sunday, November 23, 2008

Kid Arrested for Farting

Here's a story you can't help but have a little fun with--farting in school. Kids fart a lot, and boys and guys especially seem to enjoy the disruption it can cause. But adults are just as capable of causing an even bigger disruption, because sometimes the illegality imposed onto even natural behaviors of youth is not so much an issue of fining the average chalk drawing on the driveway or upholding a strict 6pm curfew. Sometimes it comes through with just the right mixture of incompetence and abuse of law enforcement.

There's a law saying kids can't have sex or drink, so one can see how such things can be enforced. There's no law against causing a disruption in a school unless you're talking about delinquency. Discipline is normally enforced by the school for minor behavior problems. But what happens when incompetent school authorities, unquestioning coppers, and substandard school lunches collide? Something asinine:

NOVEMBER 21--A 12-year-old Florida student was arrested earlier this month after he deliberately passed gas to disrupt the class," according to police. The child, who was also accused of shutting off the computers of classmates at Stuart's Spectrum Jr./Sr. High School, was busted November 4 for disruption of a school function.

A Martin County Sheriff's Office report, a copy of which you'll find linked, notes that the 4' 11" offender admitted that he "continually disrupted his classroom environment by breaking wind and shutting off several computers." The boy, whose name was redacted from the police report released today, was turned over to his mother following the arrest. The young perp turned 13 on November 15.

Bottom line, this is school misbehavior, no need to call the cops in. Just another example of the school to prison pipeline in action in the age of Zero-Tolerance. The disturbing new way to eat up our law enforcement officers' resources and time in the effort to assume behavioral responsibility for kids who fart too loudly during school. Next time he'll just have to be quieter, seeing as kids currently have no rights to free speech, what other way does he have to voice his dissent?

Too funny, but true.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

8-Year-Old Confession, Will it Hold Up?

If you haven't heard this story regarding an Arizona boy's double murder of two adults, including his father, the details of the event are provided here. The issue that seems to have caused the controversy regarding this incident centers around the confession he gave while he was being interrogated by police officers as a witness. He began saying that he didn't know who could have shot his father, pointing out possible neighbor involvement, but as the interogation wore on, he slowly began saying "I think I shot him," and eventually admitted to shooting his father, saying he reloaded and shot again to put him out of his pain. The interrogator then went looking for a motive, getting from the boy that he was often disciplined for lying, and for not returning some paperwork from school one day.

Arizona law says that even individuals as young as eight can be tried for murder, but the circumstances by which the confession was made make it seem as though it may have been coerced. He had no parent present, and no legal representation, because he wasn't considered a suspect when they brought him in, and such is only necessary when interrogating a suspect of any age. He was being questioned as a witness. It is questionable whether his confession will hold up under the circumstances, but if it does, it's very likely he'll be convicted of double murder.

By every account, this was a good boy. He had no delinquency issues, no major psychological disturbances, his family had never had any problems with the Child Protective Services, and his father, being from a traditional hunting family, even sought religious guidance on whether or not to teach his son about shooting a gun. People who knew the boy and knew the family report there were never any major problems in the past and that they are "shocked" to hear this happened.

So many things don't add up about his confession, or exactly what version of his testimony is correct. In one version, the boy said he only shot the gun at the shooter's car as they sped away from the crime scene, in another he admitted to shooting his father to relieve his suffering, and in another he said firing the gun was accidental, because he was shaking too much when holding it, and then after much questioning, admitted to shooting both men himself, reloading as necessary. All these hint at coercion, as he may have simply been trying to please the interrogators at any particular moment.

One thing is clear though, there did come a point when the boy ceased to be a 'witness' and became a 'suspect'. At that point, the police investigators would have established 'probable cause' the boy committed the crimes they were investigating. Once probable cause was established that the boy committed the homicides, then the questioning should have ceased and the boy advised of his Miranda Rights. Also at that point, a parent/legal guardian would need to be present during any further questioning of the boy now a suspect and no longer a witness.

It is not clear from the video tape alone when the boy ceased to be a witness and became a suspect. The questioning technique of the police officers and the boy's answers to their questions have raised concerns by legal analysts who have viewed the video tape provided to the media. All this may see the case against him dismissed.

Another hearing in the case is scheduled next Wednesday.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Graduate at 16

Should teenagers be able to graduate at the age of 16? In what would seem to be a vindication of Robert Epstein's suggestions toward the abolition of adolescence, comes news from New Hampshire's education officials who have announced a plan to proctor a state-wide examination in the tenth grade. Those who pass the exam can graduate early and be prepared to enter the state's community or technical college.

The news of such a shift in educational policy comes at a time when America's educational standing in the world has been falling behind other countries who already consider youth to be ready for college by the age of 16. The idea of shortening the length of time a student spends in public school has been kicked around for a while and is not considered so radical or revolutionary in these other countries. The 12 year schooling system was established during the Industrial Revlotion where it was necessary for the various socio-economic considerations of the time.

In the present service-based economy, keeping a youth in school is no longer necessitated. Few youth go on to work in factories right out of High School and the majority are being funneled into institutions of higher learning. At a psychological level, it has been argued that keeping a young person in the school system stiffles students who are motivated and innovative enough to start on their career. Allowing them into an institution of higher learning at this critical time could only be beneficial to their self actualization and motivation.

However, the move is not without its critics, who bring up a very valid consideration:

"One key concern is whether test results, at age 16, are really valid enough to indicate if a child should go to university or instead head to a technical school - with the latter almost certainly guaranteeing lower future earning potential. "You know that the kids sent in that direction are going to be from low-income, less-educated families while wealthy parents won't permit it," says Iris Rotberg, a George Washington University education policy professor, who notes similar results in Europe and Asia. She predicts, in turn, that disparity will mean "an even more polarized higher education structure - and ultimately society - than we already have.""
The problem with this is the assumption that a technical school guarantees a lower earning potential, and that students who pass the test will inevitably end up in a technical school. Neither of these are hard and fast rules. However, it is clear one thing that is to be avoided if this plan is put in motion (in all the states that are considering it) is that the socio-economic background of the student doesn't place the student before they've even placed themselves academically. A student who is able to graduate ahead of their peers should be at an advantage, rather than a disadvantage, regardless of their socio-economic status.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Obama Win is a Youth Victory

By almost every poll and estimate, the youth of the United States, those voters between 18 and 30, were one of the key demographics behind Obama's winning of the presidency.

Not only should this be a congratulation to all those who could vote, who got out the vote in this election, but also for the numerous young people not old enough to legally vote, who campaigned for and helped register new voters all across the country. Together these two entities proved the old adage that the youth vote was the only demographic that ought to be ignored summarily false, and have vindicated the power of their voice, hopefully for years to come.

"The Pew Research Center predicted the millennial generation would offer up 58 million eligible voters this year, about one-quarter of the total electorate—this is only second in size to the baby boomer generation that dominated politics during the last century. It has been a steady climb, with voters under 30 making up 14 percent of voters in 2000 and 16 percent in 2004 according to Pew."
Don't ever say that because you can't vote, all those of you under the ridiculously arbitrary line in the sand age limit, that you can't make a difference or be a force to be reckoned with. If you campaign, you are a voice, regardless of whether it's legally represented. You worked hard leading up to this, spreading the word, campaigning for your candidate, keep up the good work hereafter, and we might see some change coming your way soon enough.