Let’s start with a couple of definitions: A “prank” generally is a harmless practical joke. “Vandalism” causes physical damage.
What happened last week at Greenbrier High School was not a “senior prank,” even though it was committed by four of the school’s seniors. It was vandalism, pure and simple.
The price tag for that vandalism, which destroyed 43 locks on the school’s exterior doors when the teens squirted powerful glue into them: More than $5,100.
That’s no “prank.” That’s no joke. It’s called criminal damage to property in the second degree – a felony, which is how the less-than-fantastic four were charged.
Isn’t respect for others’ property supposed to be one of the fundamental lessons children are taught? Don’t they learn not to swipe crayons, and to not cheat off of other’s papers? Surely they don’t have to be told, specifically, “Don’t damage things that don’t belong to you”?
Or do they?
For anyone inclined to go soft with a boys-will-be-boys dismissal of these girls’ shenanigans, it’s important to remember that there is a perfect precedent.
It took place a year or two before these teens were born, and several years before Greenbrier High school was even built. But back in 1993, a similar group of students (all boys, in that case) decided it would be cute a week before graduation to vandalize Lakeside High School – including filling locks with glue.
Two vandals were caught red-handed by alert Columbia County deputies, who soon rounded up all eight participants. Six were Lakeside seniors. Passing off the activity as a mere “senior prank” didn’t work then, either; all were charged with second-degree criminal damage to property.
What’s more, the seniors weren’t allowed to march with their classmates during graduation. They weren’t allowed to pick up their diplomas until they repaid the expense of repairs and cleanup.
That seems like a perfectly fair response, and that’s exactly how the school system is handling these girls’ vandalism. Under no circumstances should taxpayers have to fork over a dime to pay for such juvenile behavior.
All four of the teens involved in this stunt seem like perfectly upstanding young ladies. A couple of them have had their names printed before in this newspaper for academic honors, or after having been voted by classmates to represent Greenbrier’s homecoming court. Yet how in the world did they manage to get to this stage in life without learning to respect other people’s property?