So, I’m writing this post as somewhat of a follow up to my post about the 9 3rd graders who plotted to injure/kill their teacher. After I wrote the post, Observations by the Bay wrote a comment, where he asked how I felt about this story, where a kid was consistently bullied in middle and high school. He said, “Should these boys assaulting Eric Wolfe be given the death penalty as well,” which leads me to believe that he thought that I thought that the 3rdgraders should be given the death penalty. I wrote back informing him that this is completely not true. In my original post, I asked, should a 12-year-old murderer not be charged with murder (showing the flaw in not charging kids under 13 with a crime), and I think the blogger thought I meant that the 3rdgraders should be given the death penalty. So again, I absolutely do NOT think they deserve the death penalty because at most it could only be proved that they would assault the teacher.
Let me clarify what they should be charged with. If I were the prosecutor, I’d probably start off with a charge of conspiracy to commit first degree murder [conspiracy murder charges are always charged in the first degree because if somebody conspires to murder, it is obvious that it was premeditated] and plea bargain it down to conspiracy to commit aggravated assault with a deadly weapon).
The blogger also said that “In short, while we agree that these thoughts are not normal for the kids, you seem to blame the kids. Personally, I put my money on the parents.” And this was my error in not posting anything on the subject. Do I blame the kids for their ACTIONS? Yes. Do I blame them for the MENTALITY behind their actions? Absolutely not. People who argue that these “kids just didn’t know better” flat out don’t know how to parent. These kids did know better, but the parents of these kids need to emphasize that stuff like this is wrong. It amazes me how much we just brush off bad behavior as “just being kids” or “he has ADD” or “she’s just really overactive,” when in reality, a good 90% of the time it’s a lack of DISCIPLINE. I’ll admit that I was hard-headed as a kid, and do you know what got me to straighten out? Spanking. A good set of spankings, and I was obedient (for a week or two), but then I’d be back to being stubborn. What happened when I disobeyed? Another spanking. After time, I LEARNED to behave. Positive reinforcement is important in a kid’s life, but when a kid disobeys, they need to be punished!
Now, on to the caseof Billy Wolfe from Fayetteville, AR and the bullies. Billy, now a sophomore at Woodland Junior High School, has been bullied since he was 12 when he attended McNair Middle School. He has been punched so hard that he has lost consciousness, needed stitches on the inside of his cheek, and his braces have gotten stuck in his cheek on 1 occasion. The incidents have been documented on bus videotapes as well as cell phones of the aggressors themselves.
But the bullying hasn’t been just physical: “In ninth grade, a couple of the same boys started a Facebook page called ‘Every One That Hates Billy Wolfe.’ It featured a photograph of Billy’s face superimposed over a likeness of Peter Pan, and provided this description of its purpose: ‘There is no reason anyone should like billy he’s a little b*tch. And a homosexual that NO ONE LIKES.’” (censor is mine) (New York Times). At this point, I should note that Billy is not a homosexual.
So, what should be done in cases like this? The bullies should be suspended after the first incident, as well as charged with assault and battery. After the third (possibly even the second) incident, the bullies should be expelled (as well as charged with assault and battery). They should be charged with libel for the Facebook group, specifically writing that he is a homosexual. I also support the Wolfes’ actions to sue the bullies. They are considering suing the Fayetteville School District as well. My opinion on that is that the district should only be sued if it’s clear that they are not taking proper action against the bullies. If this is happening so frequently, I’d assume that their actions haven’t been sufficient, but not knowing the background, I can’t say that for sure. The Wolfes’ lawyer, D. Westbrook Doss Jr., said that the point of this lawsuit is not to gain monetary reparations, but to make a point that bullying has to be stopped.
I write all of this to sum up my point on punishing minors. As with all crimes, punishments should be looked at on a case-by-case basis, but there are some general guidelines that remain true most of the time. Most kids over the age of 6 or 7 clearly know that murder is wrong. If you kill somebody after that age, you need to be punished – I don’t care if you’re only 10 – you know that murder is wrong. As well, bullies know that what they’re doing is wrong as well. If it were up to me, probably 90% of the kids charged as minors would be charged and punished as adults.
This all being said, I go back to my point that discipline and values are up to the parents. Parents need to teach their kids values and discipline them when they break the rules. Instead of blaming medical disorders or genetics, a lot of the blame should be shifted to the parents. This isn’t ALWAYS the case, but again, a lot of these cases where kids are diagnosed as being hyperactive or having ADD/ADHD are really just cases of poor parenting and a lack of discipline. I’m grateful that I had parents who disciplined me, and I’m especially thankful for spanking – that’s really what kept me in line. But parents have to be careful with spanking – don’t do it out of anger, do it out of love. This means that 1) you need to set guidelines on how many spanks based on the action and make sure that your child knows the consequences of disobedience and 2) Don’t necessarily do it immediately after the child disobeys – make sure that you’re calm, otherwise you’re only making the situation worse.