Ever heard of "pantsing"?
It's a juvenile prank where someone yanks down an unsuspecting person's pants. It's the kind of thing you'd expect an 11-year-old to do in a middle-school PE class.
As a matter of fact, an 11-year-old boy at Grovetown Middle School did just that on the morning of April 17, yanking down the pants of a classmate in the locker room.
In the juvenile-prank pecking-order, pantsing is probably meaner than tying someone's sneakers together and lobbing them over a ceiling fixture, but not as painful as a sharp towel-snap on a freshly showered fanny.
So, what should be the punishment for such an act? In the old days, maybe a stern finger-wag, or a few laps around the gym or a dozen pushups.
But for this sixth-grader? For pantsing another boy, he's been sent to the county's alternative school for the rest of the semester.
And he'll be going to Columbia County juvenile court sometime this summer because he was charged with simple battery.
I'm not making this up.
How many times have all of us in recent years wondered when common sense died? We all seem to have missed the funeral, even though there were plenty of pallbearers: bureaucrats, school officials, people who write "zero tolerance" policies.
Seriously? An 11-year-old prank-yanks another boy's gym shorts and he's charged with a crime?
Filing such a charge requires a huge cranial void where the common sense lobe of the brain ordinarily resides. Here's how Georgia law defines simple battery:
"A person commits the offense of simple battery when he or she either:
- Intentionally makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with the person of another; or
- Intentionally causes physical harm to another."
We understand there was no "physical harm" to the victim. Apparently the speed wasn't enough to give him friction burns, and none of his boy-parts were tangled.
So the charge surely must have resulted, instead, from the "insulting or provoking nature" of the pants-yanker?
Personally, I think the perp should be insulted by putting his hands on another boy's pants, unless he's into that sort of thing.
In any event, after this episode at Grovetown Middle School, school resource officer Tim Perry and assistant principal Bari Kubicek called the cops. Grovetown Department of Public Safety Officer Mike Brown soon arrived, heard the details, and consulted with Columbia County Juvenile Intake Officer Rodney Brown who said the court would prosecute, according to Brown's police report.
So the preteen is hit with a simple battery charge, the school boots him out, and in a subsequent hearing before school system hearing officer John Padgett, the kid gets banished to the county's alternative school.
Any of the half-dozen adults involved in this case at some point could have said, "Hey, you know what? This is pretty stupid. Go back to class, kid, and keep your hands off other boys' pants unless you want us to call you Michael Jackson. Now beat it."
was first alerted to this nonsense by the boy's mother. Rarely - OK, never - do I hear from a mother who isn't blindly defending her child, no matter how rotten. I typically politely explain that the law is the law and your precious child isn't exempt.
But in this case, I've tried every way possible to understand how an 11-year-old, a sixth-grader with no history of trouble, could be expelled from school and charged with a crime because of a stupid locker-room prank.
And try this gaping perspective: An Evans High student brought a rifle to school five days in a row and a Columbia County deputy didn't even charge him. Yet Grovetown Middle School and Grovetown Public Safety are taking a preteen to court because of a pants-yanking?
Those folks are tough. Too bad they don't have the common sense of a gnat.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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