Free-Range Kids

In Missouri, Kids Could Now Go to Jail for Getting into Fights at Recess

School-to-prison pipeline much?

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Bully
Marcel De Grijs / Dreamstime

Aiden hits Noah because Noah wouldn't let him on the slide. Now what?

Well, if this took place in Missouri, at recess, Aiden could be heading to jail.

At a time when we have finally come to realize that zero tolerance policies and the school-to-prison pipeline are permanently damaging kids by saddling them with criminal records and churning them through the justice system, Missouri is going in the opposite direction. Starting this year, KFVS reports, a new statute increases the punishment when students get into a fight:

The change means that if your student is caught fighting once they return back to school, they will get jail time.

Right now, if a student gets into a fight and hurts another person, they're charged with a misdemeanor and then released to their parents.

However, with the new law going into effect on January 1, that student will now head to a juvenile detention center and be charged with a Class E felony.

That means they could spend up to four years in jail.

Four years.

Fox2Now reports that the new laws will felonize third and fourth degree misdemeanors. What does that mean, exactly? Fox quotes one school district's website, which says:

"Student(s) who are caught fighting in school, bus or on school grounds may now be charged with a felony (no matter the age or grade level), if this assault is witnessed by one of the School Resource Officers/police officers (SRO) or if the SRO/local law enforcement officials have to intervene."

KVFS interviewed Sergeant Jon Broom of the Sikeson ("A great place to live, work, play!"), Missouri, Department of Public Safety, who said he hopes this new rule will have exactly the effect on kids that we almost never see on any other humans itching for a fight: They'll stop and consider the long-term consequences of their impulsive actions.

"A felony down the road is something that will definitely hamper you down the road for sure," Broom said.

Um. Yes. That's exactly why we don't want 16-year-olds—or 6-year-olds—getting felony convictions for a fight at school.

Missouri is the "Show Me" state. Show Me any evidence that this law helps, rather than hurts, the young people it is ostensibly aiming to assist.

Editor's Note: The KFVS and Fox2Now stories cited in this article misreported the contents of the new Missouri law. As Reason's Anthony L. Fisher noted on December 30, "a closer comparison of the new Missouri law with current state law reveals little will change in how school violence is prosecuted. In fact, it may actually be the case that school fights will be less likely to be prosecuted as felonies than they were before."

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  1. “A felony down the road is something that will definitely hamper you down the road for sure,” Broom said.

    Well said, Sarge.

    1. Thems fighting words.

  2. Aiden? Noah?

    This is pure white people shit.

    1. OK, then, Ichiro and Chaoxiang get into a fight over Fermat’s Last Theorem…

      1. Starring Jet Li, in theaters this summer.

      2. I was thinking of D’qwan and JaMarquisse, since we’re determined to shove them into the criminal system.

        1. OK, D’qwan and JaMarquisse got into a fight over whether Alexander Pope or Andrew Marvell was the better poet…

      3. TY for reminding me why I have read Reason for 25 years. That made my night.

  3. We give a lot of shit to police here, but in all seriousness, how could that tool actually say what he did and think this is a good idea? So an 8 yo kid has a bad day, and his life is fucking ruined? (I realize that the worst case hardly ever happens, but the fact that it could but for the kindness of the SRO or the DA is ridiculous.)

    1. I realize that the worst case hardly ever happens, but the fact that it could but for the kindness of the SRO or the DA is ridiculous exactly the way it’s intended to work. That’s how you get a government of men, not laws, and a compliant citizenry dependent on the discretionary good will of the local commissar.

    2. I realize that the worst case hardly ever happens, but the fact that it could but for the kindness of the SRO or the DA kid’s parents being friends with the SRO or the DA is ridiculous.

      1. And this too^^^

  4. How can anyone possibly justify this? Let’s give kids criminal records when they do stupid shit? Yeah, that’s really going to set them up for success in life. As for the idiot cop talking about how this would “hamper you down the road,” isn’t that an argument AGAINST this? Plenty of adults have a hard time with longer term thinking. Does this fool really think a KID is going to stop and think “If I punch this other kid, this’ll really screw me over a few decades from now?”

    1. Everything’s ok. The kids learn to cool off until they’re 18 or 21, then their juvie record is sealed, they go into adulthood reformed and squeaky clean, all’s fine, amirite.

      1. Except in the People’s Republic of Jersey, where juvenile records can be used to disqualify you from obtaining a firearms permit.

  5. I’d say that if the schools weren’t so PC, and so afraid of getting sued and/or harassed by parents, these laws wouldn’t happen.

    If you can’t kick out troublemakers without being accused of racism and human-rights violations, you’re going to want to turn things over to the police, who can absorb such accusations easier.

    1. EXACTLY. In addtion to that fear of repercussions for the school, there is a lack of discipline at home. As a result, schoolchildren are ungoverned. (Not ungovernable, but no one wants to do what is necessary to control them.)

      The result is crap like this. Tie the hands of the people who could correct children and they will just call the cops.

      And when the cops get called, someone is going to jail. (Or worse.)

  6. Add MO to my list of places to stay away from . . . . . .

    1. Do you have a habit of walking onto schoolyards and beating children? Are you under the impression that your current state does/would tolerate you doing that?

      1. Do you have a habit of walking onto schoolyards and beating children?

        No, he has a habit of walking onto schoolyards and beating off children.

        1. He’s just one of those guys, kids run up and they’re like “gimme a piggyback”, “swing me around”, and they start climbing all over you swarm style. Gotta beat them off with a stick.

      2. Maybe he has children and doesn’t want them facing a felony charge if they get into a fight at school.

        1. That would be a reason to keep his kids out of (fights in) MO(‘s school system).

    2. For me I think the list of places that are actually acceptable is probably shorter than the list of places to stay away from.

  7. How about if a 17 year old 200 lb “kid” sucker punches another and then stomps on his head, can that be a felony?

    The whole problem with laws is that they are clumsy ways to order society. We put kids into a separate category combing 5 year old and 50 pounds with 17 year old and 200 pounds

    1. How about if a 17 year old 200 lb “kid” sucker punches another and then stomps on his head, can that be a felony?

      Yes, it can be. And felonious assault has always been a felony. Hence, the name “felonious assault”. (Not to be confused with Felonious Monk, lead singer of Aiden Hits Noah)

  8. Don’t want to be a thug, don’t play on a playground.

  9. Criminal law generally is bizarre when you think about it. Has any country that had criminal law ever abolished it? What were the results?

  10. They’ll stop and consider the long-term consequences of their impulsive actions.

    Oh, good. The “introspective impulse” fight problem is adequately addressed. That only leaves blind rage and calculated vengeance to deal with.

  11. “They’ll stop and consider the long-term consequences of their impulsive actions”. The thing about kids, they don’t stop and consider any action. That’s why kids aren’t treated the same as adults.

  12. Most of these no tolerance laws don’t really pay much attention to who was the aggressor. Even if you are retarded enough to buy into a child bully who starts a fight going to jail do you really want his or her victim going there as well?

  13. “Student(s) who are caught fighting in school, bus or on school grounds may now be charged with a felony (no matter the age or grade level), if this assault is witnessed by one of the School Resource Officers/police officers (SRO) or if the SRO/local law enforcement officials have to intervene.”

    Emphasis added, because I know in a lot of schools now, teachers are required to notify the SRO and only the SRO is allowed to intervene and break up a fight*. So that means that in practice, ALL fights are witnessed by an SRO who then has to intervene because they’re the only one allowed to.

    *Not sure if this applies to Missouri schools or not, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

  14. I’m just saying, that photo is straight up racist

    1. Only a hate crime if the white kid is mentally retarded.

      1. I just assumed the well-coiffed white kid getting beat up at school was Soave.

        1. The caption should read, “As an ally, i understand how society has made you do this”

  15. Aiden hits Noah because Noah wouldn’t let him on the slide. Now what?

    Both children are orphaned because their parents are drawn and quartered over having given their kids such terrible names.

  16. Back in my day we had a great solution for playground violence:

    Just move ’em in with their Auntie and Uncle in Bel Aire.

    1. What works in west Philadelphia isn’t necessarily going to work everywhere else.

  17. “They’ll stop and consider the long-term consequences of their impulsive actions.”

    If a kid’s brain worked like that, we wouldn’t others to care for them or teach them.

  18. Aiden hits Noah because Noah wouldn’t let him on the slide. Now what?

    Who comes up with these names?

  19. This is what happens when you join the SEC.

  20. Put your hand up if you would have a felony record for something you did in K-12 (by these standards)?

    Looks around – “Ninety percent of us.”

  21. Damn. So I’d be a felon on top of losing those two fights in grade school?

  22. C’mon, think.

    If a kid is charged as a juvenile, he’s going into the juvenile system. The charge might be written up as felony misd assault, but that’s not so critical in the juvenile system. He’s still going to face essentially what he faced before this change.

    Now picture this: 18-year-old Joe smacks 16-year-old Al on the head with a brick between classes. This is Joe’s 2nd offense. Joe now faces the enhanced charges and penalties arising from this new statute.

    Yay, I say. Good move. Get the Joes out of the system for more than the two-week hold they’ve faced so far. If you’re an adult, you ought to be judged on your behavior, not on some sociologist’s view that you’re a victim.

  23. Who initiated the violence is important, is it not? Non aggression principle?

  24. This is Fake News. I can’t figure out how to post links here, but

    http://news.stlpublicradio.org/post/rumors-aside
    -school-fights-could-already
    -result-felony-charges-missouri#stream/0

    “According to Amy Fite, the president of the Missouri Prosecutors Association, the changes to the criminal code actually makes it less likely an altercation on school grounds will be considered a felony.

    “Despite some news stories to the contrary, the revision actually narrows the instances in which routine assaults will be considered felonies,” Fite said. “It doesn’t expand it.

    “Currently an assault on school property is an automatic felony, and so it’s not the conduct that makes it a felony, it’s the location where it occurs,” Fite added.

    Because the revised criminal code adds another type of assault and removes the location-specific law, Fite said a fight on school grounds that now would be considered a felony could become a misdemeanor.”

  25. Proving once again that we are governed by idiots. Yeah, let’s saddle a 10 year old with a felony. Wat could prossible go wrong other than he can’t rent an apartment or get a job. Brilliant, simply brilliant.

  26. As a Missourian; I have to say that this state is better than most other states when it comes to individual freedom, but it is not nearly good enough!
    This law is just plain stupid even if it is an improvement on a previous law! I got into a few fights in school back in the late ’70’s and early ’80’s because I defended myself from bullies. Those bullies never bothered me again, and in fact became quite friendly to me afterwards.
    The exact opposite approach should have been taken: Encourage all children to band together against the bully when one of their peers gets bullied! The State will never sanction this solution though because they do not want us adult peons to get the idea to band together against the bully state.

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