As you know, one of the purposes of this daily criminal law blog is to warn people of the realities of today’s criminal justice system. Chief among those who need the warnings, but often do not realize it, are our kids. While today’s story was originally meant for what the system calls “juveniles”…it is a good warning to all human beings who experience passion.
Today, more than ever, passion is a dangerous thing. Particularly if it leads to written or spoken communication. And, following up on my parting remarks in July 19th’s blog, once triggered, the problems it causes can follow you for a long, long time.
I am primarily talking about the something that keeps the system going…romance. Or, more specifically, romance gone bad.
Faltering relationships and messy breakups can escalate into public arguments, defamation on social networks, and worse, Massachusetts teenagers (hereinafter, “Teens”) said yesterday during a Boston Public Health Commission conference at Northeastern University that focused on the challenges and perils of breakups in the social media age.
Word spreads fast in this “instant contact” world. Teens say rapid-fire rumors in text messages and trash talk on Facebook and Twitter make the dating scene more confusing…and more dangerous in many ways. Further, ad alittle anger, obsession and desire for retribution into the mix and you have instances of hacking into an ex’s Facebook account, sending threatening text messages that end with, “Or else.”
Because nobody has to wait anymore for a “cool down” period before they spring into action, more people act without thinking. Unfortunately, however, the system does not recognize that as acceptable. “I guess I just did not think about it first” is not a defense to Massachusetts crimes such as stalking, harassment, assault, annoying phone calls or making threats to commit a crime.
And, you may be sure, the elements of these crimes are usually interpreted liberally so that no chances are taken with a potential serial killer. After all, there is the media and, “What if I give him a break and he goes out and kills somebody?”
Don’t believe me? Just look at what is being credited for the Teens’ above-described meeting. According to the Boston Globe, such discussions “about healthy adolescent relationships have been brought into sharp focus after the body of recent Wayland High School graduate Lauren Astley was found in a swamp and her on-again, off-again boyfriend was charged with murder.”
Of course, assault and battery and murder have long been understood to be violent crimes. However, according to the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, one in three adolescent girls is said to be a physical, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner.
What is verbal abuse and/or emotional abuse when it comes to juveniles? Do they even understand it? Do we adults even understand it? Now, add to that the newer issues like, “Can my relationship be official if it isn’t on Facebook? What do I do if he unfriends me after we break up? How do I stop her from spreading rumors about me on Twitter?”
To say nothing of the other side of the criminal justice coin which people do not want to recognize. This would involve false allegations made from an ex-partner scorned.
Attorney Sam’s Take On Juvenile Love And Retribution
Although we like to disregard the fact that kids are kids because they are not adults yet (biologically as well as most other ways) when it comes to things like bullying and sexting, Nature does not seem to be following our directives.
Simply put, kids do not always think through what they do before they do it. Certainly, in cases wherein someone is really injured, such as with violent crimes, the situation is nonetheless serious. However, in many of these other areas, we ignore Nature at our own peril.
As well as that of our kids.
You may want to be one of those parents who disclaim such problems with the “not my little angel” point of view. However, in over a quarter century in the criminal justice trenches and 19 years in the parenthood arena, I have not met such an angelic soul…adult or juvenile. Such a being, in today’s day and age must have complete control at all times of temper and always masterfully say the “right thing” and never, but never, make a mistake when it comes to…well…anything.
You see, mistakes with money lead to allegations of white collar crime. Errors of temper lead to threats and abuse. Not saying the perfect words leads to hurt feelings. Hurt feelings lead to anger. Anger leads retribution. Said retribution could lead that person to criminal allegations or, simply, expose him or her to the making of false allegations.
Here is another criminal justice secret…sometimes people, including kids, lie.
“I know, Sam, and such lies lead to having to go through the criminal justice system or the juvenile justice system nightmare.”
Yes…and that is simply the beginning.
Tomorrow we will end the week wrapping up the loose ends such as what comes after said “loose ends” and how pretrial probation and an acquittal can be similar in effect.
To view the article upon which this blog is based, please go to http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2011/07/21/teens_confront_new_generation_of_challenges_in_breaking_up/