In December, a New Jersey schoolboy was arrested for drawing in class.
In the post-Sandy Hook rage to blame anything (guns, video games, internet-addicted youth) the easiest thing to blame is always the kid who fails at the blankly inoffensive ideals of childhood. This 16-year-old drew a glove shooting flames. The police searched his house. They found the sort of gutted machines that hint at a proclivity for engineering. He was arrested on December 18, and was still in juvenile hall when papers ran the story on the 28th.
This handily sums up what's wrong with the way administrations are handling kids. I feel lucky in that when I was in high school, administration really didn't know what to do with me other than sit watchfully and be thankful I would make it through my senior year's classes without even needing to look up from whatever non-class-related thing I was reading or working on at the time.
Some kids differ from other kids. Surprise, surprise--they're a lot like actual people in that respect. The only thing that comes from treating kids like there's something wrong with them when they do things that the adults around them aren't smart enough to do or comprehend is disenfranchisement. They very quickly stop giving even one single fuck about what the adults want and will not only actively ignore them but rebel against them just as hard as the adults try to reshape their activities into something 'more normal'. More importantly, it teaches them to distrust authority of all kinds, because "authority" perpetually distrusts them and never demonstrates any unwillingness to break it's own rules or any remorse at having done so "for the sake of the children".
Nevermind that there's a substantial body of "normal adults" running around loose in the job market with less mental maturity than they had when they graduated from high school.
Case example: One of the more level-headed kids I know sports a mohawk and is going to an "alternative" school because of a rather minor transgression that I'm suprised they did more than give him a stern look and perhaps a day of suspension over. The lesson he's learned is to not trust them, and that he's actually not nearly as fucked up as even he thought he might be. Thankfully he's going to be spending his senior year in a regular high school, where administration will hopefully not try to pigeon-hole him. He'll give them A's and B's easily if they just let him be.
Shooter Boys and At-Risk Girls | VICE