Kate Dalley is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 96.7 FM . The opinions stated in this article are solely hers and not those of St. George News.
UPDATE 3:36 p.m. factual clarifications.
OPINION – I have been both the recipient and the perpetrator of many a prank throughout my 43 years. Fantastic pranks.
At my high school, one of the legendary class pranks involved hanging the human cadavers (taken from the science department) from the highest building at the school with rope, welcoming students to the last day of school. It was irreverent, awful and, I have to admit, really funny at the same time.
In college, I had my friends “kidnap” a fellow student that I was interested in, blindfold him and drop him off in the sand dunes to my awaiting meal and romantic evening. He was pushed out of a car going 10 mph onto sand, rolled several times, landed disoriented in front of me waiting for him. He thought it was very funny and we laughed about it for quite awhile.
Then, there are the pranks that go horribly wrong.
In Santa Clara recently, an adolescent girl was jogging in her neighborhood when three teenage boys wearing masks and no shirts, grabbed her and put her into the bed of their pickup truck under a truck bed cover and drove around for some time before she managed to escape when they came to a stop.
It still is not clear whether she recognized the boys or knew who they were when they grabbed her. If they were older than she, she may have thought this was a stranger abduction. That would have been terrifying.
The boys are now each charged with a single count of kidnapping – a second-degree felony were they charged as adults. And the school district is responding with its legally required processes.
According to local news reports, the girl’s father was furious the night of the kidnapping and said the incident caused trauma to his daughter, but he is now voicing concern and a hope that the boys not receive unreasonably severe penalties.
I think that the boys thought this was a prank and did not mean to harm this girl physically or emotionally. This was a prank that went way too far.
I can see both sides of this issue.
I have a beautiful 17-year-old daughter and if this happened to her and she was traumatized – worse, thought to be abducted – I would be enraged and want the boys to pay for their crime.
I also have teenage boys. Teenage boys, from time to time, can be missing valuable brain cells and make idiotic decisions. If my boys had been guilty of a prank like this, I would have been outraged and the “wrath of mom” would of harbored no boundaries to the consequences they would be subjected to – by me.
The question is, should the boys do hard time and be sent to prison? I hope not. Their expulsion from school and some community service would be more appropriate for this prank-gone-wrong. Intentions are important when building a case for the prosecution.
This world of political correctness, in which in other examples children are subject to suspension and accused of sexual harassment – a 9-year-old for telling his teacher that she is cute, a 7-year-old for kicking another boy in the groin, – is mind boggling and infuriating.
The zero-tolerance rule has left me with zero tolerance for the school systems that are too quick to shame, accuse and punish kids who are just being kids.
Two wrongs do not make a right in this case. To inflict lifelong repercussions on the idiotic, one-time actions of these boys would be a second wrong.
I think the lesson was learned in this incident the moment the police took these three young men into custody and arrested them. I am sure that the night spent in jail was a big wake-up call to the seriousness of their stupidity.
These “kidnappers” need to rally around this young girl and make sure their apology to her is heartfelt and meaningful. Surely, these boys would be willing to spend some time going around to the local schools and delivering a message on what a prank actually consists of and how it can go too far. That would be a great punishment for their actions and time well spent learning a valuable lesson about how our actions can affect others.
Copyright 2012 St. George News.