I got some flack for episode 1.4 of the URS podcast because people thought some of my reasoning for why people would leave for the colonies was a little too extreme. I mean, surely it can’t really be as bad as all that, parents and kids getting arrested for things like truancy or dumb jokes…
But… and I really hate to say this… It’s actually worse than even I thought it was at the time.
Just this week, two stories crossed over my news reader. And both of them are amazingly sad.
So… Let’s take the first. About a girl from Texas:
For one day, public enemy number one when it came to forgery was 13-year-old eighth grader Danesiah Neal at Fort Bend Independent School District’s Christa McAuliffe Middle School.
Now 14, Daneisha was hoping to eat that day’s lunch of chicken tenders with her classmates using a $2 bill given to her by her grandmother when she was stopped by the long arm of the law.
“I went to the lunch line and they said my $2 bill was fake,” Danesiah told Ted Oberg Investigates. “They gave it to the police. Then they sent me to the police office. A police officer said I could be in big trouble.”
Not just big trouble. Third-degree felony trouble.
And that’s just one of eight counterfeiting charges investigated against high- and middle-school students at Fort Bend ISD since the 2013-2014 school year.
“She’s never in trouble, so I was nervous going in there,” [Daneisha’s grandmother Sharon Kay Joseph] recalled to abc13.
The officials asked, “‘Did you give Danesiah a $2 bill for lunch?’ He told me it was fake,” she said.
The alleged theft of $2 worth of chicken tenders led a campus officer — average salary $45,000 a year — to the convenience store that gave grandma the $2 bill.
Next stop — and these are just the facts — the cop went to a bank to examine the bill.
Finally, the mystery was solved: The $2 bill wasn’t a fake at all. It was real.
(Edited for brevity, I promise, no salient facts were omitted.)
So… pardon my French… but… WHAT THE FUCK!?!
I mean, look, I get it, I hear they don’t make $2 bills any more. In fact, after reading this, I went down to the bank to get a handfull to give as gifts and, at least the bank I went to anyway, didn’t have any. But they’d heard of them. As had I and I’m 37. So have all of my siblings, the youngest still being in her late 20’s. Our grandmothers used to give them, usually as stocking stuffers and we did our best not to spend them unless we were really out of money and we just had to buy that bag of Everlasting Gobstoppers.
How the fuck has no one at this school ever seen or heard of a $2 bill?
Reason number 1001 why being a kid today sucks. Aparently a group of misinformed idiots has never heard of a $2 bill so they arrest a 13-year old girl and threaten her with passing counterfeit money. Rather than just, you know, calling a bank if they really thought it was fake or, more reasonably, just asking around to see if anyone had ever actually heard of a $2 bill before.
And before anyone says that $2 bill is really unusual and bound to be considered strange, consider that Europe has a €2 coin which I found infinitely more useful than the one Euro coin…
As if that weren’t bad enough, here’s an example of a kid pulling a stupid prank and paying the “consequences” for it:
A US teen is facing multiple counts of indecent exposure after school officials in an Arizona town discovered he had exposed himself in a football team picture that was published in his school’s yearbook.
[redacted O], a 19-year-old student at Red Mountain High School in the town of Mesa, was arrested over the weekend and told police that he exposed his penis as a prank after being dared by a teammate, US media reported.
“It is a small picture and a small part of a small picture so it’s not as blatant or obvious as some stories may lead to believe,” Hollands said.
Police said [O] is facing 69 counts of indecent exposure in accordance with the number of students and staff who were present when the picture was taken. He was also charged with one count of furnishing harmful items to minors.
(Kid’s name removed because he doesn’t deserve any more pain from this whole thing)
Was showing his junk in a team photo stupid? Yes. But apparently his real crime was that no one noticed until it had been printed into 3,400 yearbooks. And the school and district were embarassed that they hadn’t noticed.
But… per the new policy of letting no stupidity go unpunished, the police decided that a high schooler should be arrested over what amounts to a dumb prank. Worst case scenario, he should have been responsible for the cost of re-printing the yearbook. But, then, where does responsibility really lie? In a kid pulling a dumb prank or the undoubtedly dozens of adults who review the yearbook for, no doubt, exactly this kind of thing?
Apparently not with the adults. Because one prank managed to slip through, it’s not their fault. It’s obviously his.
At least there’s some good news in this story, which is that his 69 “victims” all declined to file a police report and the prosecutor dropped the ify felony charge.
Still… Reason 1002 why childhood sucks today.
But think about the message this sends to kids… Don’t use money people don’t recognize, even if it’s totally legal because cops might threaten you with up to 10 years in prison. And don’t do stupid things teenage boys might think are funny because you might get straight up called a sex offender and face who knows how many charges…
Despite the fact that both of these cases “worked out”, the truth is that neither did. In the first case, you had a girl pulled out of class, threatened with jail time, and to make it all worse not even fed. Imagine how she feels about “law enforcement officers” after this experience? Will she really think they’re there to safeguard her and her rights? Or will she potentially think something else…?
And what about the other kid? Now his name is all over the internet and people who Google his name, be it for college admittance or as a job candidate, will find that he once faced close to a hundred sex offense charges. Will they read past the headlines? Will as many news outlets push the story that the charges were dropped as published that he was charged? Also, did he spend time in a jail cell? Was he humiliated in front of a judge? How much did he have to spend on a lawyer? None of these things are coming back to him.
Honestly, kid, good luck. And good luck to everyone who is a kid these days. As much as I look back on my own childhood with some fondness, you couldn’t pay me to be a kid again.