Public schools

Learning-Disabled 12-Year-Old Arrested, Locked Up for Inappropriate Touching

Schools should call the cops as a matter of last resort, not as a default response to misbehavior.

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Kids
Dreamstime

A 12-year-old boy from Porter, Texas, spent a night in juvenile detention after cops arrested him for inappropriately touching another student, a girl, at school. He might face criminal charges of indecency with a child.

The boy has a learning disability and struggles to communicate with other classmates, according to his father, Fred Lillie. On Wednesday, the boy approached a group of girls on the playground and ended up touching one of them, ABC13 reports:

The 12-year-old, who has trouble socializing with his peers, is accused of approaching a group of girls on the playground and touching one of them below the belt in the front of her pants.

It set off a chain of events that saw the boy fingerprinted at school, then put behind bars in juvenile detention overnight.

Lillie said, "It's sad because it shouldn't have happened. I mean, I know my son, my son had no intent that way."

According to the boy's parents, the child has a written Behavior Intervention Plan that was not followed by the school. The parents contend the plan requires the boy have adult supervision which did not happen Wednesday.

The boy is facing charges of indecency with a child. The family's lawyer says the offending touch may have been inappropriate but it was not a criminal offense.

This news story is a little vague regarding the inappropriate touching. Was it inadvertent? Was it a deliberate act from a child who doesn't understand the consequences of his actions? Or was it a deliberate act from a child who does understand consequences and really should have known better?

The answer to this question should have informed the school's response. But in almost any case, a night in juvenile detention is an extreme punishment, especially for a 12-year-old who doesn't seem to be an active threat to anyone. Nevertheless, the school defended its decision to call the cops in a statement to the press:

 "Student safety is a top priority for New Caney ISD. The district cannot comment on student disciplinary issues due to legal restraints. When a criminal act allegedly occurs on campus, incidents are referred to the Montgomery County District Attorney's office. How the district attorney's office decides to proceed with the case can impact what disciplinary actions are taken by the school district following an incident."

This statement implies that hysterical overreaction to student misbehavior is official policy at the school. Administrators make no effort to separate actually dangerous conduct from conduct that is inappropriate and unwelcome but far from threatening—no, they just call the cops regardless.

I don't mean to suggest that a kid touching another kid inappropriately is some trivial matter; the girl has every right not to be touched, and that right was violated. I also don't mean to suggest a learning disability gives a kid a free pass to misbehave. All disabilities are not alike, and it isn't clear from the news story how socially impaired he actually is.

But when the perpetrators and victims of these kinds of infractions are children, is not some restraint expected? Doesn't the school have an obligation to teach this kid why his actions were wrong, comfort the girl if she is upset, and impose a reasonable punitive measure?

The alternative—treating kids, even disabled kids, as fully-formed adults who will face the maximum possible punishment for any and every infraction—requires children to already be perfect. It's just not realistic.

If the kid does something very bad, or routinely causes trouble, there might be grounds for removing him from the school. But I still wouldn't want to see him locked up, unless that was really the only way to keep the world safe from his actions. And charging him with indecency with a child—an insane idea, given that he is himself a child—is a cruel way to make what is sure to be a difficult life (depending on how serious the disability is) much, much more difficult.

This story calls to mind the boy who faces assault charges for kissing a girl without her permission. In both of these cases, the aggressor's actions were wrong. But kids make a lot of mistakes, and if schools aren't prepared to respond appropriately—to repair the mistakes without breaking the children—what use are they?

Calling the cops on a child is an extreme solution that will irrevocably change that youngster's life forever. It shouldn't be the default plan of action every time a kid acts out.

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  1. Aren’t these the same geniuses who say disabled kids should be mainstreamed?

    1. No. They’re the dull-witted bureaucrats who have to DO the mainstreaming that some academic decided (usually without having kids, or ever teaching school) was a swell idea.

      Mind, both groups are part of the sprawling blob of intellectual goo that is the Profession of Education. If every college of education in the country was burned to the ground tomorrow, the Teachers’ Unions outlawed and hounded like the KKK, and we went back to the largely catch-as-catch-can schooling of the 19th century, I strongly suspect that the children would be better off.

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  2. Is Obama gonna send out a tweet inviting the kid to come to the White House to touch him?

    1. If Obama had a son, he would be a learning disabled perv.

  3. When my dad was just a kid in school he lifted a girl’s skirt out of curiosity. His dad found out and locked him in the garage for the entire weekend. Needless to say, my dad turned out to be something of a pervert with secret stashes of ‘dirty’ magazines and 8mm film loops. Wonder how this ordeal will negatively affect this poor kid. People in the US need to get past their juvenile “sex is icky” attitudes.

    1. There’s a difference between jerking it to porn in private and sexually harassing another person and violating their personal space.

      I’m all for teaching kids not to do the latter.

      1. The punishment should fit the ‘crime,’ especially for kids who are too young or disabled to understand what they did was wrong.

      2. Teaching them not to do it is great. I doubt anyone here will argue with that.

        Arresting them for it…

    2. People in the US need to get past their juvenile “sex is icky” attitudes.

      “Sex is icky” is a juvenile attitude, sure.

      “Juvenile sex is icky”, may not be such a bad attitude.

    1. Hahahaha! Never in my wildest dreams as a young hoodlum would I have imagined the awesomeness of the Internet

  4. is accused of approaching a group of girls on the playground

    Well, there’s his first mistake.

  5. “Student safety is a top priority..”

    Is this boy not a student? Why is his safety being ignored?

    1. He became an unperson the moment he engaged in ungoodacts.

      1. Literally guilty of gender genocide.

  6. What ever happened to “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.”.

    1. ?*

      Question marks: What are they?

      1. Question marks, how do they work$ ….dammit

    2. That is not OK.

      1. fa?ce?tious (f?-s??sh?s)

        adj.
        Playfully jocular; humorous: facetious remark

  7. Why didn’t the cops tase and kill him? That’s the usual corrective action for a handicapped child with no sense of boundaries. Locking him up is an okay start but where’s the follow through? Can’t they find some officers to sit on his chest for awhile? Are the cops all pussies in Porter, Texas?

  8. Was the kid black or Latino? If so, then this is another indication of the systematic racism of no-tolerance policies. If not, then it doesn’t matter.

    1. There’s a fairly pernicious white-people joke making the rounds.

      Q: Why is a white person in prison scary?

      A: Because you know he’s guilty, ha ha!

      The racial frame may apply to some cases (eg, the clock kid), but on the whole it’s showing its age and it’s not productive.

  9. Apparently, even Texas is becoming wussified.

  10. Can a mentally disabled 12 year old form mens rea?

    1. Mens Rea? HaHaHaHaHaHaHa
      Intent doesn’t matter anymore, all that matters is whether a prosecutor can prove that you violated a law, any law, which usually means that there are duplicate laws they can charge you with, so they charge you with as much as they can. The average citizen is now scared shitless, and half believing themselves to be criminals. Hell, they must be criminals, or they wouldn’t have been arrested and charged.
      So, they take the plea bargain, show their contrition to the judge, and are given what is still a widely inappropriate sentence.
      But they feel relieved, the “justice” system is perpetuated, and the assistant DA gets another check mark in the “win” column.
      It’s win-win-win.

  11. One, that is still young enough, especially if he has brain problems, that the correct course of action is to teach appropriate vs. inappropriate behavior. That’s what you do with children. Two, we really need to get it into our collective mindset that putting people through the legal system is itself a form of trauma, and thus should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.

    1. Ok, this is the second time in as many days that you’ve made sense, Tony.
      Good job. Keep it up.

      1. Tony seems to be consistently making sense lately. I am a little worried.

  12. On the bright side, he’ll be invited to the White House and receive job offers from….. somewhere.

    “They only did this to you because you are learning disabled, nothing of this sort would happen to the normals”

  13. Shouldn’t a statue entitled “indecency with a child” assume and therefore only be applicable to an adult, presuming an adult would know better?

    1. Also, it seems this is the other side of the social-justice/progressive coin, where one side is “treat adults as children”, and the other is “punish children as adults”. Bizzaro!

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  17. which is worse Sharia law as envisioned by ISIS or the American school system.

    1. Don’t be stupid. The American school system, especially “zero tolerance” is horrible.
      But to compare that to an organization that rapes and kills innocents, kills members of any other religion, or even different sects of their own, and who video tape themselves burning people alive, is not helpful to the discussion.

  18. “Disabled” has lost all meaning. Is this child what we used to call “mentally retarded” or has he scored low on some standardized tests? There is a difference, even if the scum who populate the “public school” system don’t know it.

    In today’s public indoctrination system, being lazy and undisciplined is a “disability”.

    1. whether or not you are correct you have chosen a truly bizaare topic in this article to be outraged about, given the outrage available.

      Its like being outraged that Hermann Goering wore white after labor day. Shocking, to be sure, but completely beside the point.

  19. Wait, on the one hand, there are calls for colleges to follow due process and CALL THE COPS for campus rapes instead of handling discipline in-house, and then now there are calls to NOT CALL THE COPS for inappropriate sexual touching at school–which is it we want? School administrators are bureaucrats–and bureaucrats aren’t all that bright or courageous.

    The rules need to be crystal clear for them: always go to the cops, or never go to the cops, but nothing more complicated than that. Asking school administrators to use their discretion as to whether inappropriate sexual touching has crossed the line into outright sexual assault is asking far too much of them and leaving the school system open to lawsuits.

    1. And this, sadly, is 100% the truth. Although, I suspect intestinal fortitude is lacking more than intelligence.

    2. “Wait, on the one hand, there are calls for colleges to follow due process and CALL THE COPS for campus rapes instead of handling discipline in-house, and then now there are calls to NOT CALL THE COPS for inappropriate sexual touching at school–which is it we want? School administrators are bureaucrats–and bureaucrats aren’t all that bright or courageous.”

      Yes, because rape is exactly like a 12YO ‘touching’ another 12YO.
      Tulpa?

      1. You’re not getting the point. Where are you going to draw the line between rape and ‘touching’?

        Or, more specifically, how do you expect a bureaucrat to draw this line?

        Let’s go through the thought experiment.

        Let’s say this 12 year old boy touches this 12 year old girl at her belly button. Probably safe to say that’s not rape, right? Draw an imaginary line from her bellybutton to her vulva/vaginal entrance. Touching her at her vulva/vagina entrance is probably safe to call rape.

        NOW, where along this line between her vaginal entrance and her belly button are you asking this bureaucrat to determine where touching stops and rape begins? Is it 50% between? That’s probably below her panty line. She’s freaking out already. So is it 40% of the way? 30%?

        You act like it’s so easy, but we’re talking about bureaucrats here who run the 17th best education system in the world, not the 1st.

        1. Now, one could argue that cops and judges are bureaucrats too and are no further qualified to decide where the line is between touching and rape in our thought experiment, BUT, in the criminal justice system, the 12 year old boy at least has:

          + a chance at due process
          + presumption of innocence
          + possibility of trial by jury of his peers
          + access to legal representation
          + access to experts who have specialized in sexual assault, as opposed to school administrators and teachers who have specialized in education

          This boy has a better chance of being found innocent or acquitted and thus avoiding penalties in the criminal justice system than with the zero-tolerance school policies and approaches set by Title IX, who have infamously been too quick to condemn and too harsh with penalties.

          1. how about we start by “drawing the line” at informed consent. so much wrong with everything “dchang0” has to say:
            1. title IX applies to universities not middle schools
            2. a child charged with a crime does not have “access to experts who have specialized in sexual assault, as opposed to school administrators and teachers who have specialized in education”. what planet do you live on where “experts” are provided to defendants?
            3. a child charged with a crime is not guaranteed access to an attorney.a childs parents can waive the right to an attorney. most of them do, because there is no public defenders office for children.
            4. when you said a child charged with a crime is entitled to a jury of his peers I knew you have no clue wtf you are talking about. do you think this boys fate will be decided by a dozen preteens?

            middle schools should handle their students differently than colleges because colkege students are ADULTS.

        2. “You act like it’s so easy, but we’re talking about bureaucrats here who run the 17th best education system in the world, not the 1st.”

          I’m getting the point just fine: YOU are prepared to excuse the school’s action under the claim that they are not real bright and a bunch of pettifoggery.
          I’d prefer we expect more from them.
          It is tulpa, isn’t it?

          1. If you’re too fucking stupid to tell the difference between forcible rape that requires police intervention, and normal childhood curiousity, you’re too fucking stupid to have authority over large groups of children.

            There, is that so hard?

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