How does a fight on a school bus between middle schoolers end with a felony hate crime charge?!
Two girls, age 10 and 11, are facing criminal charges of harassment and assault after a fight on a school bus in the small town of Gouverneur, in upstate New York on September 10.
Gouverneur is a small town approximately 30 miles from the Canadian border with 4,000 residents. According to the most recent census data, in 2010 the population was listed as 95 percent white and just 1 percent black.
The girls who were charged are both white and the 10-year-old girl that they fought with is black. The 11-year-old is facing a felony charge for using “racialized language” during the altercation.
It has not been reported what the “racialized language” used was, (though, I’m sure we can all guess,) nor was it revealed how the fight began or what provoked it. In a statement by Governor Andrew Cuomo(D-NY), he stated that the attack lasted for 20 minutes.
The girl who was assaulted had some of her hair pulled out, her right eye was blackened after being punched, and suffered a bruised knee after falling backward onto a seat on the bus during the attack.
It is now up to county probation officials to decide whether the accused girls should be prosecuted in family court, a probation department supervisor said. The girls were charged as juveniles.
“The loss of civility in this world is being played out in the realm of 10- and 11-year-olds,” Lauren French, the local school superintendent, said in an interview on Wednesday. “There is no shade of gray in this. This event was wrong on all levels.”
In addition to the girls being charged, an adult aide, 28-year old Tiffany N. Spicer of Edwards, N.Y., was riding the bus with the children as a monitor did not intervene and is being charged with three counts of “endangering the welfare of a child” according to police.
“That this was allegedly perpetrated by her own classmates, on a school bus with an adult monitor present, makes this incident even more shocking and troubling,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement.
Governor Cuomo has directed the State Division of Human Rights and asked the Hate Crimes Task Force to assist local authorities in their investigation.
There has been a push to charge children with crimes instead of calling it “bullying” and chalking it up to “kids being kids.” Some districts even hold parents responsible for the behavior of their children facing fines and even jail time.
Some municipalities have enacted local laws that can lead to parents being fined for their children’s actions. In North Tonawanda, N.Y., near Buffalo, parents may be fined $250 and jailed up to 15 days if their children engage in bullying behavior. Gouverneur does not have such a law.
Ms. French, the schools superintendent, said that she agreed with the police’s decision to treat the episode as a crime, as did Mayor Ronald P. McDougall of Gouverneur.
Some anti-bullying advocates, however, disagree with what they consider turning children into criminals over behavior that crosses a line.
Kids are still kids after all and need to learn the boundaries of acceptable behavior. One anti-bullying advocate says that parents are pushing too far for vengeance for their child that has suffered at the hands of bullies.
“Parents are out for blood,” said Ross Ellis, the founder and chief executive of Stomp Out Bullying.org, a national organization. “I had a mother call me who wanted a 3-year-old on the playground arrested. I get that you don’t want your child beaten up, but it’s got to stop on both ends.”
Ms. Ellis said that the girls accused of bullying should receive counseling and that school officials and the girls’ parents should meet to explore the roots of the behavior. “It’s a terrible thing that happened, but make it a teachable moment,” she said.
Source: New York Times
So, to sum up:
- 2 kids are being charged for a fight on the bus
- no motive/provocation was given
- the two girls charged are white, the girl they are accused of beating up is black
- it’s a small town with a tiny black population
- it appears because of the use of “racialized langauge” that this was labeled a hate crime which brings a felony charge
- some think it’s appropriate to charge middle schoolers with a felony
- some think it’s criminalizing children
Bullying is unacceptable, period. Twenty minutes of fighting on a school bus with two girls attacking another girl with the adult not intervening is completely unacceptable no matter what color any of them they are.
It’s unclear where these kids are learning to behave like this.
It could be parents, I suppose.
When children behave in this manner — especially if the fight was an unprovoked attack based on race — it seems reasonable to me to check out what their home life looks like.
Increasingly, however, children are being “parented” by schools, before and after school care facilities, the internet, and pop culture.
The most popular form of music right now is Rap, and it is popular among all demographics.
I’m no real fan of Rap and never have been because back when I was a teen, much of it was about gangs, violence, drugs, and the objectification of women. Frankly, I found it vile. My opinion hasn’t changed much, but to be fair, not all of it is like that.
However, there is still a market for violent, sexualized, and even racialized elements to it.
One of the atrocious things is the use of an altered version of the “n-word.”
10 and 11-year old middle schoolers could not reasonably be aware of the nuance between the “n-word” and the “reclaiming” of the “n-word” by dropping the “-er” and replacing it with an “-a.” It’s everywhere. Pop culture icons like Cardi B drop it in their social media posts and livestream videos as well as their songs.
And of course, the phenomenon of the “N-Word Pass” which, (whether it’s a joke or not,) grants someone “permission” to use the “n-word.”
The “rules” as to who and who cannot use the “n-word” has become incredibly complex.
Heck, my youngest child is 11 and I’m having difficulty comprehending these rules, so I just don’t use it ever, and don’t like it when anyone else does.
These are the kinds of things that kids are exposed to now. How can we charge them with a felony for repeating what they’ve heard a successful adult say? (If that is indeed the case.)