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Middle school kid charged with assault for throwing food

A 14-year-old Virginia middle schooler is currently sitting out a lengthy suspension and waiting to hear if she’ll have to go before a judge for allegedly assaulting her teacher.

With a baby carrot.

The carrot, which measures 1-3/4 inches long, is being considered a weapon in the case of 14-year-old Aliya, who allegedly chucked it at a passing teacher in the hallway. According to police, the Henrico County teen was walking through the hallway when she saw the teacher, dug the baby carrot out of her pants pocket and threw it at the teacher, she maintains, as part of a “joke.” Her mother, Karrie May, also insists that her daughter was “playing” and is in shock in regards to the fallout:

“Yes, it happened, and I can see a couple of days in school detention or even a couple days out-of-school suspension. But this goes way beyond that. We have to go to court, and her charges aren’t small: assault and battery with a weapon.”

It’s true. Aliya, who has already been suspended for a month, might now have to go to court to face assault and battery charges. Assaulting a school employee or teacher while they’re doing their job is a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia, which, for a juvenile, could result in up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.

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There’s probably more to this story than May and her daughter are letting on, given that most students don’t stash delicious snack veggies in their pockets on the off chance they might use them as projectiles later as part of a joke. But even if we never get to the root of the issue, there’s something really wrong with bringing criminal charges against a 14-year-old for flinging garden vegetables.

Clearly it’s beyond inappropriate to throw things at a teacher. The teacher in question was unhurt by the incident but could have been injured if the carrot hit her in, say, the eye instead of the forehead. There’s absolutely no question that if your child does something as obnoxious as chucking food or anything else at one of their teachers, they are being vastly disrespectful, and it should not surprise you if they are suspended or even expelled for doing it.

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That said, what is with the uptick in kids being criminally charged for this stuff? Much like the teens who are charged with making and distributing child porn and go on sex offender registries for sending their boyfriend or girlfriend a sext, turning teenagers into criminals over dumb teenage pranks is overkill.

Juvenile detention is no joke, and it’s no place to toss kids who toss carrots or take dirty pics. Studies have shown that kids in detention centers are more likely to re-offend, more likely to engage in self-harm and to cost the government a whole lot of money to detain.

No one’s saying Aliya would definitely end up in juvie for sure if she’s charged and found guilty, but it’s also a real possibility. Not to mention court cases aren’t cheap for taxpayers. Isn’t there a more effective — and cheaper — way to dole out consequences for our kids?

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Again, in no way is it even remotely OK for kids to hit their teachers — with carrots or otherwise, in jest or no. But why not just suspend a kid and be done with it?

Teens don’t have a fully developed set of reasoning skills, which is why so many of us have made pretty awful decisions in our salad days. Those decisions result in appropriate consequences, which is right. It just doesn’t seem like the appropriate consequence for throwing a carrot should be the state throwing the book at a kid.

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