‘Let's get back to the old school' discipline: Is FL Sheriff right arresting 10 year old?
- According to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, a fifth grade student was arrested and charged with sending a “threatening text message” to carry out a mass shooting over Memorial Day weekend. In response, Sheriff Carmine Marceno joined “Fox & Friends” on May 31, 2022, to talk about his zero tolerance policy asserting, “[parents are] afraid to discipline their kids. Let’s get back to the old school.”
- Days before, a mass shooting occurred at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas resulting in the death of 19 children and two adults. The suspect was an 18-year-old gunman who legally bought a gun after his birthday.
- Gun Violence Archive reported a 25% increase in gun violence from 2019 to 2020, totaling 19,223 deaths. From January to April 8, 2021, there were 11,428 deaths by gun, and 4,960 from homicide, murder, or unintentional gun death.
- The National Library of Medicine reported that school corporal punishment is legal in 19 states. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends positive discipline rather than physical or verbal punishment, suggesting, “parents do not spank, hit, slap, threaten, insult, humiliate or shame to discipline their children.”
A 10-years old Florida boy was recently arrested for making a written text threat to commit a mass shooting. Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno is taking the threat seriously. In doing so, he has come out forcefully against coddling children and instead advocating that parents get back to 'old school' discipline. Certainly, any threat of a school shooting must be taken seriously. Sheriff Marceno is right about how, in many instances, parents do a poor job of disciplining their children. Whether that is the case in this instance remains to be seen. Regardless, the child must be dealt with firmly and to the full extent of the law, especially coming on the heels of the Texas mass school shooting.
Arresting the child, especially if it is followed up with criminal charges and prosecution, will send a message to other children and parents alike. Parents, like it or not, have some level of responsibility regarding the actions of their minor children. Children will occasionally do foolish—childish—things. Most of the time, they don't have serious, potentially life-altering consequences. Threatening a mass school shooting comes with serious consequences—and those consequences should be apportioned out to both the child and parents.
There has been a significant increase in the number of school shootings over the last two decades. Yet, the share of American households owning at least one firearm has remained relatively steady since 1972. Something else is at work here. There can be and most likely are societal factors that may play a part. However, as Sheriff Marceno points out, parents cannot be afraid to discipline their kids. That is one area where parents have explicit control.
Floridian law enforcement has gone too far as they recently arrested a 10-year old 5th grader for an alleged mass shooting threat and texts about school violence, handcuffing the child to be taken to the station for an interview. While the police were right to question the child, they should not have arrested him in this way. Granted, what happened in Uvalde has police on their nerves, but it was a 10-year-old child in this instance.
'Old school' discipline recommended by the Sheriff comes off as cruel and devoid of any rehabilitation value as the arrested child may suffer trauma from the experience, further damaging his psyche. This child probably lacks the mental capacity to understand what he was doing and especially the punishment that followed. Likewise, there is little evidence he was in possession or had access to a gun to deliver on his plan. Further, there is no history of this child being violent or abusive towards others. Instead of arresting the child, law enforcement should have called in social services to understand what he was thinking. The arrest on its own doesn't solve anything. It could very well be that the child made the threat because he was seeking attention, was bullied, or is dealing with home issues. Law enforcement should have first determined his competency to find out if he knew what he was doing and the repercussions. The arrest appears to be political and serves no other purpose. Authorities must find out ahead of time who is dangerous and who is not, but immediately placing 10-year-olds in handcuffs is not the answer.