Civil Liberties

Student Who Pranked His Teacher Should Get Detention, Not Jail and a Felony

Miscreants, not criminals


Domanik Green

I often criticize school and police authorities for taking overzealous disciplinary measures against students who really didn't do anything wrong. (Take dinosaur boy, for instance.) But sometimes a student does deserve to be punished for doing something wrong—he just doesn't deserve, let's see, jail time.

Fourteen-year-old Domanik Green of Pasco County, Florida, provides a perfect example. Green was angry with a teacher; here's what he did for revenge, according to The Tampa Bay Times:

Green logged onto the school's network on March 31 using an administrative-level password without permission. He then changed the background image on a teacher's computer to one showing two men kissing.

… "I logged into a teacher's computer who I didn't like and tried putting inappropriate pictures onto his computer to annoy him," Green said.

Green's actions are certainly indefensible. He did something immature, and should be punished. I would give him a week or two in detention, and consider harsher penalties if he got intro trouble again.

What I would not do—what no sane person in a position of authority should do—is ruin his life with a felony cybercrime charge. And yet:

A 14-year-old Florida student has been charged with a cybercrime after allegedly hacking onto his school's computer network to change the background image on a teacher's computer to a photograph of two men kissing.

Eighth grader Domanik Green, who attends Paul R. Smith Middle School in Holiday, was suspended from school for 10 days and also charged with an offense against a computer system and unauthorized access, according to The Tampa Bay Times.

Treating every small infraction of school rules as a crime requiring police involvement is a waste of time and public resources. And it's bad for the kids. Green might not be able to return to school; will he learn anything from this experience? Will he become a more mature teen? Or will his life become immeasurably worse because officials went to DEFCON 1 over almost nothing?