Teen Arrest--what to do now?

This is something for which I’d like to be prepared before it arises, and I need a game plan.

One of Hallboy’s friends (age 14) has been arrested for something really stupid–apparently Friend wrote a threat on the school bathroom wall which turned out to be a “bomb threat”. The school was evacuated, searched, etc. and, of course, nothing was found. A few days later, school administration came to class and pulled Friend out of class and that’s the last anyone has seen of this kid at school. In this morning’s paper was a small write up, but the kids are putting two and two together and coming up with the fact that Friend was the one who wrote the note on the bathroom wall and was arrested. According to the article, Friend has been released to his parent’s custody, but is facing felony charges. Hallboy was not involved (wasn’t even at school at the time this happened) and didn’t know anything about it, let alone that Friend was the one accused of doing it until his class started talking about as a result of the article in the paper this morning.

This is a relatively new friend for Hallboy (about two months old), but they’ve hung out quite a bit. Just this past weekend, Friend, his dad and Hallboy went to the batting cages. Although I’ve not met the parents, I’ve met the kid and he didn’t strike me as a “stock piling explosives in the basement” type of kid. Typical 14 year old boy. Personally, I think this was more along the lines of stupid thoughtless teen boy action, rather than Columbine in the making.

I’ve talked to Hallboy about this, and he’s…well, typical 14 year old boy responsiveness. (It’s like pulling teeth to get beyond just the facts.) He’s hurt that everyone at school thinks it was Friend (although I don’t think they’ve pointed fingers at Hallboy or anything), and hurt that apparently enough is pointed at Friend that he did it. I asked him if he’s heard from Friend (text message or phone call) and he hasn’t since he was pulled out of school, which means Hallboy hasn’t called him either.

I suspect that Friend will be back in school, and that he’ll probably contact Hallboy soon, and honestly, I don’t know what to say or do. If I’m wrong and Friend has some serious problems (that are now begining to show themselves in the form of intended violence towards the school), then I really don’t want Hallboy hanging out with Friend. However, if this was a Stupid Boy Action, I don’t think it’s right to tell Hallboy that Friend is off limits. One mistake is lesson learned, or one mistake now fuels a fire of anger? I don’t know.


Another thing–this is middle class/upper middle class, white bread small suburb America. Everyone knows everyone (usually by name) and we are very much new to the area. It’s my hope that we can stay here for another four years until Hallboy graduates from high school (he’s a freshman). Hallboy doesn’t have any problems making friends, but I don’t want him to make the kind of friends that get him arrested.

What exactly did the boy write on the bathroom wall?

I don’t know. It wasn’t exactly in the newspaper article.

My guess, based on what you know about Friend and under the assumption that he did do write the threat. It was probably something done purely out of boredom and he just didn’t think it through. Personally, I wouldn’t be worried. If it continues, you might have an issue (to be dealt with in another thread), but it was probably just a prank gone wrong. Wheather the evacuation was what went wrong (as in REALLY didn’t think it though), or the evacuation was planned and the getting caught part was unplanned.
You said he didn’t seem like a ticking time bomb, so go with your gut.
ETA Pardon the pun.

My vote: you need to meet the kid’s parents. Talk to them, see what kind of support they provide the kid, what kind of life they live, whether they can tell you if this is “stupid boy actions” or “Columbine in the making”. Make no decisions before you meet the parents.

I think it is reasonable to allow the friendship to continue, possibly under greater supervision or stricter rules than previously applied.

(On the other hand, my thinking on the subject just might be influenced by a book I read recently, in which goody-two shoes Irene was allowed to be friends with troubled Pamela provided that she call Mom and Dad if Pamela drank or did drugs in her presence. Pamela didn’t, because she valued the friendship, and Irene turned out more or less ok, while Pamela grew into a troubled adult. On the other hand, the book in question was not a documentary or a guide to parenting, it’s a novel called All Night Long by Jayne Ann Krentz. Also, Irene’s parents end up murdered).

in my opinion, serious threats against a school are generally not written on said school’s bathroom wall. In all likeliness it was just a kid letting that ever-present teenage stupidity out in the wrong way. Such is life.

If you’re that worried, meet the kids parents, maybe do a bbq together so you all can hang out. Another good thing would be just going to the batting cages with Friend and your kid, or taking them to a baseball game. Get to know the kid a bit better to ease your fears (or justify ending a friendship, however it turns out). Again, though, seems to me like the Friend was just being an idiot and struck a nerve with the school (which has to take such things seriously, for obvious reasons) and there was really no harm intended (and no thought behind said action, hehe. Stupid kids… :wink: ) (mind you, wasn’t too long ago I found myself running from the cops for setting off fireworks in a DRY FIELD in the hills near my parents’ house. Wasn’t the brightest kid myself, but I turned out (more or less) ok)

Purgatory Man used to work in a school district in a fairly upper middle-upper class suburb, and these bathroom-wall messages were fairly common, especially at the middle school. The kids know that they’ll get at least part of a day off school and that there will be much fuss and bother, and that’s the kind of fun some of them live for at that age. When I was in junior high, we used to join walkouts against the Vietnam War for the same reason.

I think you’re right to be cautious, but if Hallboy’s friend does come back to school (in some districts this is a hangin’–or at least expellin’–offense), and if Hallboy wants to resume his friendship with him, then it might be time for a frank talk about school violence and/or stupid gestures that get one arrested.

Friend may have some issues and might have really bad impulse control, but I don’t think you have to worry about him becoming a career criminal based on this alone. He did an idiotic thing, and the school climate being what it is he may have to live with it for a lot longer than common sense would dictate.

Some years back, I covered a school district where there was a bomb threat. Bomb threats being what they are, the schools were guaranteed to have a big reaction - not that they shouldn’t - and the kids figured that out. So there were a a rash of these threats, most of them phoned in, but another was written on a desk and another still on a bathroom wall. There were some bad apples among that fairly large number of kids but I’d say most of them were just being thoughtless idiots and were not necessarily the kind of kid everybody in the neighborhood had to avoid.

Thanks for all your replies.

I woke up this morning with this first on my mind, thinking of Friend’s parents. They’re of working class (dad is a journeyman of sorts and mom works part time in a grocery store). I’m sure having an attorney on retainer was not in their budget. I cannot imagine what they’re going through.

Yeah this.

A few years ago one of the local schools here in Dallas did a walk out because they were supposedly upset at some new proposed immigration laws.

One of our local news stations was on scene and asked a few kids: “Why are you protesting?” More than a couple of them didn’t even know what the hell they were protesting!

It was kind of funny actually.

I’m a little peeved the the kid in the OP is facing charges. I mean come on. A few swats with the paddle or a couple of days of in school suspension. Charges are way overkill IMHO.

Agree totally. Immense overreaction … the rule books didn’t need to be rewritten just because of Columbine and similar events.

Hey, just tossing 2€cents with everybody else’s. What Friend did was stupid, but I don’t expect he really meant to harm anybody.

ETA’s biggest single-day deathcount was 21 dead and a lot of wounded, from a bomb in a supermarket in late 1986. When the supermarket managers were asked why hadn’t they evacuated, they produced records indicating they got 5-6 bomb threats every day. If they evacuated every time there was a threat, they would have gone out of business. Pranksters whose calls had stopped causing a reaction beyond Yet Another Report To Be Filled years before were at least partially responsible for the deaths of 21 people.

This information isn’t meant as a condemnation on the kid, but as food for thought.

Bomb threats: The new pulling the fire alarm.

Corporal punishment has long been on the outs in schools, of course. And rightly so. For the record, kids were also charged in some of the instances I mentioned. Video cameras were also set up near the school’s pay phones so they could get video of anyone making a bomb threat.

I’m a juvenile public defender, and it’s quite possible that in our jurisdiction his family would qualify for free representation. They’re a lot more lenient about that when it’s a kid involved.

Chances are that Friend has an expulsion hearing coming up at school, and may not be back for quite some time.

Just talked to Hallboy–he said a teacher at school confirmed that it was Friend who wrote the note, and that he’s been expelled.

I asked Hallboy if Friend had contacted him and he said no. I asked what he (Hallboy) would do if Friend contacted him, and Hallboy replied “nothing”. I questioned him and his response was “He’s a criminal, and I don’t want to associate with criminals.”

Now…normally, I would think, “right answer” as I’d rather not have Hallboy associate with criminals, but I’ve been so torn in the past 24 hours about this, partially because I cannot come to terms with Friend being a “criminal”, and now I’m questioning the fact that Hallboy has learned to see things from such a black or white perspective.

Why am I so conflicted about this? Do I want my kid to hang out with criminals? No. Do I want my kid’s school to have to clear because of bomb threats? No. Would I want my kid hanging out with someone who would leave a bomb threat? No. So what is the problem???:confused:

Apparently, Hallboy feels much more clear about this than I do. And I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not.

Sure it’s a good thing, he has ethics and wants to be careful who he associates with.

Some from column A, some from column B. As long as Hallboy feels unconflicted and is uninterested in contacting this friend, leave it alone. But if things change, reconsider your position.

I don’t think it’s weird for a teen to feel very black and white about stuff, but you may wish to work on broadening his mind in general.

I might want to ask Hallboy to look at it from Friend’s point of view. What if you (Hallboy) pulled a stupid prank and got in huge trouble for it. How would you (Hallboy) feel if your friends automatically classified you as a ‘criminal’ and totally cut you off?

This ‘criminal’ stuff seems weird. The kid did something stupid; that doesn’t make him a criminal by a long shot.

I think black and white feelings on right and wrong are very common and appropriate at age 14. I also think that, depending on where Hallboy’s development is at, it might be time to introduce shades of grey, but I don’t know that doing it in *this *case is the right way to go. As you say, this is a recent friendship; it’s possible that Hallboy was never emotionally invested in this kid and doesn’t think him worth risking his real, long-term friendships over. And he’s probably right, whether or not the kid is a criminal or just a weirdo. Either way, he’s no longer at the same school, so a friendship would be an above-and-beyond kind of thing, just logistically.

I think this is one of those things that took care of itself while you were waiting to figure out what to do about it. Be thankful for that and move on.