Drawing the line

On Friday, some kids here pulled an early April Fools' prank on their classmates, lacing some donuts with laxatives, just like on an MTV show they'd watched. Now, while I think it was an awful thing to do, considering the potential effects on anyone who may have eaten one, it was still a childish act. The children are now facing criminal charges.

Of course, there's a difference between right and wrong, and these 13 and 14 year old boys were known as jokers. However, the severity of the action is just one example of how adults are rushing children to grow up so fast these days. I'm not ignoring that the prank was shown, apparently with instructions, on TV, merely analyzing the reaction by officials.

We're living in a world that makes thongs for pre-teens and overreacts by sending in the bomb squad over a harmless ad campaign. What, years ago, would have simply been written off as a harmless teenage prank punishable by perhaps a week or two in detention is now being handled by the police. Think about that.

I wouldn't have wanted to be one of those people who ate the tainted donuts, but the effects of a laxative last a day at best. There would almost certainly be no permanent damage. When it comes to more severe incidents, such as when kids deliberately attempt to poison their teachers, then perhaps police involvement might be more suitable. However, perhaps they should try to give kids a warning first instead of arresting them. Work with their parents. Heck, even scare them a little bit. When I was in kindergarten, we took a field trip to the local police station, where they locked us up in a holding cell for a few minutes. Even when you're five, that can have an impact.

There are just so many aspects of today's society that are making childhood shorter and shorter. Arresting children can leave them with a very negative self-image, and it can make them feel hopeless. If it happens more than once, and I've met some people who'd been through the juvenile system, it really does damage their sense of hope.