And so the incarceral state continues to bully its way into childhood, parenthood, and family life . . .
First up, another story about teenagers, sex, and the internet in which local law enforcement officials claim that the only way to save some kids from ruining their lives . . . is by ruining their lives.
Four suburban teenagers have been arrested on felony charges, for an explicit video they posted on Twitter.
All four students attend Joliet Central High School, and are between the ages of 14 and 16. A 15-year-old girl and three of her classmates recorded consensual sex acts one week ago, and posted the video on Twitter.
The girl’s mother found out about the video, and reported the Twitter post to police, who seized the original recording.
The four teens were arrested Friday, and charged as juveniles with child pornography
Joliet Police Chief Brian Benton said posting the video online made already risky behavior criminal.
“It’s a criminal offense, first of all, to post that type of material online, especially for underage,” Benton said.
Police want the charges against the four students to serve as a cautionary tale to other youths engaged in high-risk behavior.
“The child pornography offense that was charged is in place for a reason, because we don’t want to accept that type of behavior as a society,” Benton said. “It’s making a strong statement, and I think it’s important to do so, to send a message to others that kids shouldn’t be involved in this type of behavior, and hopefully this will serve as a deterrent.”
Benton said such behavior could seriously affect the teens’ lives “for years to come.”
“It’s an incident you may not recover from,” he said.
How bold of Chief Benton to be willing to destroy these kids’ lives with child pornography charges for a series of mistakes they made that (a) only victimized themselves, (b) were made while they were minors, and (c) is only the digital age version of the same mistakes a significant percentage of teenagers have been making for as long as there have been teenagers. I wonder if Chief Benton ever made a mistake as a teenager.
Next up, Holiday, Florida officials want to ruin a kid for a dumb prank.
Eighth-grader Domanik Green, 14, of Paul R. Smith Middle School in Holiday, Florida, was recently arrested and charged with offense against a computer system and unauthorized access (which is a felony charge). He was released from Land O’Lakes Detention Center on Wednesday.
The Tampa Bay Times reports that the Pasco County sheriff’s department took action after Green used a teacher’s administrative password to log onto a school computer. While accessing the machine, he changed its desktop background to an image of two men kissing. The computer had state standardized testing questions on it, though they were encrypted and police say that Green didn’t access them. “I logged into a teacher’s computer who I didn’t like and tried putting inappropriate pictures onto his computer to annoy him,” Green told the Times.
Sheriff Chris Nocco said, “Even though some might say this is just a teenage prank, who knows what this teenager might have done.”
As far as I know, we don’t punish anyone in this country, let alone minors, for crimes they might have committed. Let’s be clear about something: It’s the adults who are failing in these stories, not the kids. Perhaps these children do have some problems above and beyond the normal growing pains of being a teenager. That’s a reason for adults to reach out to them, and offer them help. That requires some patience, some nuance, and some empathy. But the criminal justice system is a blunt instrument. There’s nothing nuanced about it. Using cops, courts, and jails to address problems once handled by schools, parents, religious leaders, and community institutions isn’t bold or difficult or brave. It’s just throwing the threat of violence at our problems. It’s easy. And it’s lazy.
Danielle and Sasha Meitiv’s children, ages 6 and 10, were picked up by police on Sunday at around 5 p.m., and taken to Child Protective Services. A neighbor apparently saw the children walking alone and called 911 to report it. FOX 5’s Marina Marraco reports the children were walking about a third of a mile from home at the time.
Danielle Meitiv tells FOX 5 she had told her kids to be home by 6:30 p.m., and when they weren’t, she and her husband became frantic and started driving around looking for them.
The Meitivs say CPS didn’t call them to let them know they had the kids until about 8 p.m. The Meitivs drove to CPS to pick up their kids, but say they were told to “take a seat” and initially weren’t given any information about their children, except that they were there.
Just after 10:30 p.m., the Meitivs were reunited with their kids. They had to sign a temporary safety plan to take them home, which means they are not allowed to leave the children unattended at all.
The Meitivs’ 10-year-old son told reporters they sat in the police car for about two hours before they were told they would be dropped off at home, but instead, they went to CPS in Rockville.
I don’t envy CPS employees. They have a difficult job. Make a mistake in one direction, and you could be endangering the life of a child. Make a mistake in the other, and you’re needlessly ripping a family apart.
But this just seems like vindictive harassment of the Metivs for making the agency a national laughingstock last January. And if that is what happened here, the implications are pretty frightening. Perhaps it’s time the Maryland legislature or Attorney General Brian Frosh take a look at what’s going on.