Friday, December 05, 2008


Close encounters with the first grade

Oy. This is where I grew up:

First Grader in $1 Robbery May Face Expulsion

A first-grade boy who took a table knife to his Pembroke Pines elementary school and used it to rob a classmate of $1 in lunch money faces possible expulsion and charges of armed robbery, officials said Wednesday.

“We have seen more incidents where students are bringing items that they shouldn’t bring to school,” a Broward County schools spokesman, Keith Bromery, said. “We’re not sure exactly why that’s happening.”

In the last month, an 8-year-old boy took a gun to his elementary school classroom in Fort Lauderdale, and a sophomore at Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale was charged in the shooting death of a classmate in a school corridor.

Things have certainly changed a lot in the 44 years since I was seven.

Which is not to say that there was no crime in the schools back then. Kids would steal or extort your lunch money. Kids would steal your bicycle. There was plenty of bullying going on.

Just not with knives or guns.

I do find this statement by a police spokesman to be odd: “There’s some difficulty in this case because you first have to determine if the child knew what he was doing.” I can’t believe that even a seven-year-old can “not know what he’s doing” when he robs a classmate at knifepoint. Of course, I don’t think he should have the book thrown at him, as I’ve talked about in these pages before. But I think we have to assume that he knew he was doing something wrong, and the situation has to be treated with that assumption.

It looks like they’re considering the right answer: move him to another school where he can get more supervision and counseling, and possibly bring him back to his old school later.

[An aside: the dateline in the story says "MIAMI", which seems odd, as nothing in the story has to do with Miami (which is in Miami-Dade County, not neighbouring Broward County, and which is separated from Broward by towns like North Miami and Opa Locka).]

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