Real Teens


School Safety


How Can I...


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Stay out of trouble

They called it kidding or joking or fooling around. Their school, police — and their victims and victims' parents — called their actions delinquent conduct, which is the juvenile equivalent of crime. It is an act for which you could be sentenced to a juvenile detention facility.

Only having fun...

A high school student posted comments about his teacher on MySpace. It was, he said, "a joke." He said he was "only having fun."

The teacher described the incident in somewhat different terms. He called it defamation of character, and he succeeded in bring criminal charges against the student.

"I have finals coming up and I have to study, and instead I have to go to court," The student said. He added, "You can say whatever you want, but it can get you into trouble." Now he knows.

Though he faced criminal charges, that kid was not what you would normally call a criminal. He was just a kid who didn't know where the line is drawn in the law between fun or "just talking" and delinquent conduct (which is what we call criminal offending when it is committed by a person under 17).

Hanging out...

A group of kids enter a vacant building and after a while, as it gets darker and colder, one of them starts a fire. They call it "hanging out." The police, who are summoned by the owner of the building, call it "criminal trespass," a Class B misdemeanor, and the felony offense of arson. Everyone in the group can be charged, not just the one who lit the fire.

Just talking...

A student asked to leave school early and was told "no." He got angry, Teen arrestedwalked into the hallway and said he was going to burn down the school. He was suspended, placed in the alternative education program and charged with a misdemeanor offense.

Stunned by the severity of the situation, he insisted he had no intention of carrying out his threat. He was "just talking." He was "just mad." Or so he called it.

They called it "making a false alarm or report." Specific intent is an essential element of the offense. This means that he had to know the report he made was false or baseless. The evidence was legally sufficient: like he said, he never meant to do it.

Mouthing off...

The following is an exchange between a student and a disciplinary supervisor:

Teen: I want my towel [red bandana].

Supervisor: I told you I'm not going to give it to you.

Teen: Man, I want my towel.

Supervisor: I told you I'm not going to give it to you.

Teen: Well, I tell you what, I guess I'll just have to get my gun then.

Supervisor: Do what?

Teen: I'll just get my gun.

Supervisor: What do you plan on doing with it?

Teen: Well, I'll shoot you."

The student's lawyer later said the conversation was just "playful banter," and not meant to be taken seriously.

The kid's mother said, "I think he was just mouthing off, because he doesn't own a gun."

Making Healthy Choices
Know that your mouth can get you in serious trouble. Don't use it to scare people, to cause a commotion, or to play a practical joke. Don't fool around with others if they are telling you "no" or "stop." Stay out of trouble.

The court held that evidence was sufficient to find that the teen committed an offense called retaliation against a public servant: "It is clear that the Legislature intended to protect public servants from retaliation for the exercise of their duties."


Two female middle students complained that a male student touched them inappropriately while on the school bus.

Teen arrestedHe had also struck and threatened the girls. He said this was "simple horseplay" with no intent to achieve sexual gratification.

The girls testified that he had repeatedly groped and threatened the girls, using explicit sexual language. The court held that he touched them with the intent to arouse or sexually gratify himself.

The student was adjudicated (for a juvenile, this is the equivalent of being found guilty) of indecency with a child, an offense that carries with it mandatory expulsion from school.

Didn't really intend...

"High school student brings gun to school..." That was the headline in the local newspaper when a student reported to ISD police that a 15-year-old had brought a gun to school. Officers recovered the loaded gun from the student, who had it on him in a classroom.

Police said: "The student did not intend to harm anyone or use the gun on school grounds."

Principal said: "There were no problems with this student in the past and there was nothing to indicate this behavior."

He was charged with a 3rd degree felony for bringing a gun on school property. He is barred from returning to school. It's a major consequence for what might have been a thoughtless act on his part.


A student choked a fellow 8th grader during a game of "pass out," causing unconsciousness, bleeding and 4 chipped teeth. The student who did Teen arrestedthe choking, who was charged with Aggravated Assault by Choking, said his action was consensual. The victim testified that he didn't consent and didn't want the other student touching his neck.

The court held that the first student was aware of the substantial risk caused by choking the victim and recklessly committed aggravated assault. Choking the victim created a substantial risk of death, thus threatening "serious bodily injury."

The choking game can easily end in senseless tragedy.

A practical joke...

A 16-year-old student used his albuterol inhaler to blow medication into the face of his teacher. The teacher had a "physiological reaction" and required medical attention.

Police took the student to county detention and said: "There is probable cause to hold him for an assault of a public servant, which is a third-degree felony. The reason one person can't give another person prescription drugs is that the drugs could seriously harm them."

Crime & Justice

Trouble at School
Property Crime
Guns Gangs Murder
Juvenile or Adult
Types of Offenses
Words Defined
Hate Crimes


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