Yeah, it’s a few days old, but:

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2012/02/cranford_school_district_weigh.html

The fist-shaking oldster in me is wondering why the cops went through and processed 47 kids (yeah, in my day they would break up a party and we would scatter..with only the occupants and the truly inebriated left to fend for themselves)..and also how the 47 kids were cornered in such a way that they ended up being caught and processed. But that’s not the main point.

One thing I do find distressing is what I find the “felonization” of childhood. Seriously. Some of the stuff kids get caught for and penalized for (having a drinking bust on your “permanent record”) is much more severe than it was for us. And I think we were probably worse than they are. Full disclosure: As a kid/teenager, I ran away from police on more than one occasion. And a couple times I was caught too (for nothing serious…One time my friends and I had been bumper riding on a snowy night. In my town there was a very wide road with an incline and we were grabbing onto cars there and riding on the snow covered street. We had a few rides until an old Plymouth Duster rolled past. The driver said to grab on, and proceeded to floor it. For the few seconds between the thrill of sliding and ‘holy crap, I better let go’ we covered some distance and all of us rolled to a snow-encrusted stop.  We were getting up and starting to dust ourselves off when the beams of the headlights from a police cruiser hit us. Grounding was for three weeks). If I was a kid now I probably would have been sent to juvie. Back then I was one of the good ones in my town.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t want our kids to do bad things. I don’t think we should tolerate serious drug use, theft, vandalism, drunk driving or infliction of bodily harm. But is so much more “formal” now with much less room for mistakes. And I did learn from mine.

And using out-of-context Facebook entries as a smoking gun? It’s one thing to be busted, it’s another when a gag photo can affect your entire college admissions process and, indirectly your career. Authorities LOVE low-hanging fruit (like ICE and the wonderful job they do making the legal immigration process so arduous), and what is easier than finding a picture of a coed with a red Solo cup on Facebook? Never mind that it was at a family reunion barbecue and was full of Sprite. This is offensive to me.

Kids need to be kids. And that means that they will do some stupid things. It is our job as parents and educators to prevent them from doing reaaallly stupid things that can get them hurt or ruin their lives. But the temptation is there to prevent EVERYTHING. And that is not the parent’s job or the educator’s job. That is the kid’s job. They have to learn. If they have no experiences they will not learn.

And they won’t have as many anecdotes to tell people 20 years later.

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