A. Barton Hinkle on Whether Teenagers Are Big Children—or Little Adults


More and more children are being arrested and charged with criminal offenses for behavior that used to earn them detention—or less. Twelve-year-old Sarah Bustamantes was arrested at Fulmore Middle School in Austin, Texas, a while back because she sprayed perfume on herself after being told, "you smell." According to a study of the Texas educational system, more than 1,000 pupils have been hauled into court for offenses as minor as "making an unreasonable noise." You might think: Well, that's Texas for you; they're old-school down there. But, writes A. Barton Hinkle, it's the same story in many parts of the country.