Maintaining Optimism in the Face of Reality. Occasional observations on the state of the world, society, business and politics. Usually anchored by facts, always augmented by opinion.

More Bad Seed Stories  | e-mail post

About a month ago, I wrote about some bad seeds, children who exhibited staggering antisocial behavior, like a 12 year-old girl murdering her sleeping mother and an 11 year-old attacking her babysitter with a machete. News today is almost as troubling:

In Philadephia, an 11 year-old boy raped one of his male classmates. [KTVU] Apparently this resulted over a fight about a handball. As an aside, the boy has been charged with "involuntary deviate sexual behavior." I am philosophically troubled by the charge, as I don't see how it could be considered involuntary. The idea of involuntary manslaughter makes sense to me, particuarly in the the context of reckless driving: there was criminal negligence that results in someone's death, but the negligent behavior wasn't intended to cause that death. The idea of the boy's act being "involuntary" makes on sense. While many people might speak of the penis as having a mind of its own, I always thought it was meant as a joke. I would be curious what other actions have been similarly charged.

Beyond the students and families involved, fallout from the incident has include the firing of the school's principal. [KTVU] In addition, the for-profit Edison Schools has been put on notice by the Philadelphia school district; most troubling was that teachers had apparently complained to administrators as early as August that students at the school were out of control. [Philadephia Inquirer] [Philadephia Daily News] While many may jump on this issue as an indictment of Edison or even the idea of for-profit school management organizations, it is worth noting that Edison views its primary goal as rasing achievement, and in that area, they have delivered in Philadelphia [press release on Philly test scores].

Sadly, this might not be as uncommon as one would hope, as there were 16 rapes or attempted rapes in or around Philadephia schools last year. [Philadelphia Daily News] The bigger question, though, is how does a 12 year-old even get the idea for rape? I can't help but wonder what we will learn of the child's home life.

In a story that could be nicely scripted into the original story of The Bad Seed, two 13 year-old girls in Georgia poisoned (thankfully not fatally) 12 of their classmates. [KTVU] Most troublesome in this case is that one of the girls had been diagnosed with a form of autism that made her unsuitable for a conventional school setting. Frankly, I think her father should be punished severely. He has offered a fairly lame apology, but asked not to be identified to protect his daughter. [KTVU] [Atlanta Journal-Constitution] I imagine it is more about self-protection, as from his statements, he sounds almost complicit in the "prank" as he referred to it.

Apparently even with older girls in Georgia, poisoning is all the rage, as an 18 year-old attempted to poison her college roommate with bleach after some dispute about food in their refrigerator. [WXIA] Honey, get a sense of perspective, it's a dorm fridge, it's not the end of the world.

In simpler times, if a headline read "child murderer" or "child rapist" you knew that the use of the word "child" was describing the victims, not the killer. Sadly, we can no longer make that assumption.

e-mail post | Link Cosmos | [Permalink]  |  | Friday, November 19, 2004
What is the world coming to? I don't hardly believe half of what I read and hear and none of what I see.
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