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Teenagers who vandalize may face serious consequences

 

halloween-graphicSome parents consider children who vandalize the property of others to be “just kids having fun.” Is that your opinion?

A tradition in some communities is the “rolling” of other people’s lawns. Young people go to the store and buy huge quantities of toilet paper. They then arrive in the middle of the night at the victim’s lawn and throw toilet paper as high as possible in every tree in sight. They relish the thought that the other person will be cleaning up the mess while they’re home in bed.

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A new twist to this scenario is “forking” the person’s lawn. This features buying boxes of plastic knives, forks and spoons and sticking the handles into the lawn so that the fork tines are upright. If the victim does not get all the instruments removed from the grassy area, the home owner may find his lawn mower tire punctured by the fork.

A third escalation is the strewing of feminine hygiene products across the lawn with the hope that it will rain and the soggy mess will further detract. This borders on obscenity and indecent behavior.

These practices may seem like a harmless pursuit to many, but let’s see what the consequences might be.

A car crashed into a tree

A car crashed into a tree

First, these vandals are usually teenagers, at least one of whom is old enough to drive a car. They perform these illegal acts in the middle of the night. It is possible that the teenager driver, in haste to leave the scene of the crime, could have an accident and injure or kill a passenger.

Question: do their parents know where these kids are? If not, why not? If so, is the parents then party to these acts? Or are the parents guilty of neglect of a minor?

Under Tennessee law, people who commit these acts are guilty not only of vandalism, but of littering. In addition, if the victim of these crimes informs the vandals to leave and they do not, they are also guilty of trespassing.

Another common “trick” some teenagers feel is a big joke is the bashing of mailboxes. This is a federal offense that can carry up to three years in jail and/or a $250,000 fine, according to the U. S. Postal Inspectors’ website at http://www.usps.com/communications/newsroom/localnews/ma/ma_2007_1010a.htm.

That is no joke.

Vandalized Mailboxes

Vandalized Mailboxes

People who consider the old adage “boys will be boys” need to now add “girls will be girls” to their vocabulary because both are involved in this type of activity today.

A scene from the movie Unaccompanied Minors

A scene from the movie Unaccompanied Minors

With more children being left on their own with little or no supervision, it is not surprising that more of them are getting into trouble. Some kids think they are being “cool” because they have not been caught—yet. Even when the offenders are apprehended, some parents seem to feel that law enforcement should not be “going after kids.”

Kids who spray paint public signs are costing the taxpayers of this country millions of dollars each year. No one likes to pay more taxes, so what is the answer?

As a society, we have to stop this “let them have their fun” attitude. Criminal behavior should not be tolerated at any level. The nightly news is now featuring the number of juveniles who are involved in crimes that are escalating to robbery and even to murder.

Parents, teachers, spiritual leaders and public officials need to let their children know they will not tolerate involvement in crimes—whether it is stealing a pencil from another kid, trashing someone’s lawn, abusing drugs, or taking the life of another person.

Just saying “no” and meaning it can avert more serious offenses in the future.

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About Sue Freeman Culverhouse

    Sue Freeman Culverhouse

    Author of Tennessee Literary Luminaries: From Cormac McCarthy to Robert Penn Warren (The History Press, 2013) Sue Freeman Culverhouse has been a freelance writer for the past 36 years. Beginning in 1976, she published magazines articles in Americana, Historic Preservation, American Horticulturist, Flower and Garden, The Albemarle Magazine, and many others. Sue is the winner of two Virginia Press Awards in writing.

    She moved to Springfield, Tennessee in 2003 with her sculptor husband, Bill a retired attorney. Sue has one daughter,  Susan Leigh Miller who teaches poetry and creative writing at Rutgers University.

    Sue teaches music and writing at Watauga Elementary School in Ridgetop, Tennessee to approximately 500 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. She also publishes a literary magazine each year; all work in the magazine is written and illustrated by the students.

    Sue writes “Uncommon Sense,” a column in the Robertson County Times, which also appears on Clarksville Online. She is the author of “Seven keys to a sucessful life”, which is  available on amazon.com and pubishamerica.com; this is a self-help book for all ages.

    Web Site: http://culverhouseart.com/
    Email: cuverhouse@comcast.net

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