Saturday, May 14, 2005

Is This Another Example Of A School Overreacting?

Charles A. Dana, editor of the New York Sun, once said:"If a dog bites a man, that's not news. But if a man bites a dog, that's news!"

In the spirit of Charles Dana,
we offer this bit of news from Las Vegas, Nevada:
An 8-year-old was arrested, handcuffed and taken to jail last week after biting an assistant principal, outraging juvenile justice officials who believe children are too often arrested in behavior cases that could be dealt with through school discipline.

The child was booked at the juvenile detention center, but she was not taken into detention because her alleged crime wasn't considered serious enough, officials said.

Eight is the youngest age of arrest under Nevada law -- children younger than that are not considered criminally responsible. The child had been acting out in class and was taken to the principal's office, where the bite occurred. She was arrested on battery charges.

Although the incident was confirmed by several justice officials with knowledge of the case, including Roske, the Clark County School District Police Department said it had not heard of the incident.

School Police spokesman Officer Darnell Couthen said he knew of no such case.

Officials familiar with the case said school police made the arrest.

Compounding the potentially traumatic effect of a police arrest on a small child, the 8-year-old spent the night in a holding cell in the booking anteroom to the detention center. She was later sent to a mental treatment facility.
Why did it take so long to release the child to the custody of the parent?

After reviewing the circumstances surrounding the incident, District Attorney David Roger decided not to press charges against the child. The school district and the police are currently in the process of developing guidelines concerning the arrest of young offenders.
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