Originally created 04/25/06

Parents should pay for damage



Parents who don't know where their kids are at 2 a.m. are simply bad parents - so bad, in fact, that they should be made to pay for the consequences of not knowing. Teens have no business out that late on their own - and if they are out, they're invariably up to no good. Parents should know that.

These thoughts come to mind as a result of the two youths - 13 and 16 years old - arrested April 17 by Richmond County deputies on charges of burglary and criminal damage in the second degree to Butler High School property. Both offenses are felonies, and took place after midnight.

The vandalism damage was extensive, says Lt. C.A. Tony Walden. It cost $20,000 to fix and clean up, and forced the school to delay its 7:35 a.m. opening until 11:30 a.m. Meanwhile, students waited in Butler's stadium.

According to Walden, the perpetrators broke through a side window to get in and ransacked the cafeteria before removing hundreds of milk cartons from a cooler, and splattering the white liquid throughout the school. Then they smashed more windows, broke surveillance cameras and ripped up water fountains, causing the halls to flood.

This kind of destructive conduct is unconscionable at any age. The kids charged with these crimes are having their names withheld because they're not yet adults, but if they're proved guilty the maximum penalty the law allows for juveniles should be imposed. This went way beyond ordinary vandalism. There's no excuse for it.

Nor is there any excuse for the parents not teaching their kids respect for other people's property, then failing to monitor their youths' whereabouts at night. If the teens are convicted of the charges, then certainly their parents should pay the $20,000 repair bills.

There's no reason why Butler should pay. The school did nothing wrong. Whoever the vandals' parents are fell down on their job - and they should be the ones to pay for the damages.