A 13 year old girl and a 12 year old boy have been arrested in Staten Island for what NYPD have labeled a “bias attack” on a Muslim classmate. Both have been charged with a hate crime for picking on a 13-year-old schoolmate at the Dryfus Intermediate School. The children allegedly called the girl a terrorist and teased her about her religion; the victim also claims that the boy threatened to rip off her hijab.
While there should be no tolerance whatsoever for bullying, I can’t say I feel comfortable with the idea of children being arrested for this sort of behavior. These kids should absolutely be punished for what they’ve done, but I think there should be some steps taken before handing this over to the police.
Don’t get me wrong: I am highly critical of Islamaphobia and I see a mounting danger in this country’s growing intolerance for members of the faith. I also think that the school district and the police should be commended for taking action; there are people all across this country who would have allowed this behavior to continue without doing anything to protect the young victim. However, I just wonder why school administrators didn’t try to handle this in house without creating criminal records for two children who’ve committed acts of bullying that were cruel, yet not nearly as vicious or harmful as other cases we’ve heard.
Kids can be merciless; they’ll tease classmates about race, body type, height, income level, family, academic performance and anything else you can think of. However, few of these cases make their way to the police department. What happened in Staten Island could have been a great teachable moment for the entire school community without involving criminal charges. Police could have been brought in to discuss hate crimes with the children and those found to be responsible for the menacing could have been punished in a more traditional way; if they continued to behave as such, then police action may have been a logical next step.
What say you, Clutchettes and Clutch gents?