Thursday, April 26, 2018
News Roundup

In bus beating case, we are sending kids the wrong message

The beating has stopped.

At this point in the video, the 13-year-old victim is cowering beneath a seat on the school bus, and his three assailants are standing nearby as if admiring their own brutality.

The 64-year-old bus driver, who was shouting at the trio of 15-year-olds to back off while he was calling dispatch for help, now stands in the aisle and addresses the older teens.

"You know, y'all going to jail,'' the bus driver says. "Y'all going to jail.''

Looks as if the driver may have been mistaken.

Authorities have recommended that two of the 15-year-olds be given nine months of probation for the attack that took place in Gulfport but circled the nation via video.

Let me say, I understand the reluctance to send kids to any type of correctional facility, juvenile or otherwise. There is a real danger of forever altering a youngster's life by potentially dooming him or her to the justice system at such an early age.

But, in a case such as this, there is an even greater danger in treating a violent crime as a youthful indiscretion.

Look at it this way:

Based on police reports, two of the older teens had approached the 13-year-old earlier in the day with an offer to sell marijuana. The younger boy declined and then notified a school official. Isn't that what he was supposed to do? Isn't that what we teach our kids?

And yet the boy's reward was a broken arm in a savage beating.

So, tell me, what lesson should other kids take from that?

If I'm a kid who tries to stay out of trouble, I'm thinking only a fool would ever notify authorities about a potential crime. And if I'm a kid with a bad attitude, I'm not too worried about breaking bones if I know counseling is my likely punishment.

"There is a danger in setting the wrong tone for kids, a fear that you better not speak out,'' said attorney Frank McDermott, who represented the bus driver after Gulfport police initially suggested he was negligent for not intervening. "It's unfortunate, but it could create a mentality where the bad kids run roughshod over the good kids.''

What's important to remember is that this was not a simple schoolyard fight. It was not a dispute over girls or sports or some other random event.

This was a premeditated attack. It was vicious. It was brazen. And it did not end when the boy fell to the floor and tried to escape.

This cannot be excused as a temporary lapse in judgment or a matter of hanging out with the wrong crowd. It was not a crime of opportunity, and it was not a victimless offense.

In other words, this was not some boys-will-be-boys transgression. It was brutal, cowardly and utterly inexcusable.

Here's what cannot be forgotten:

In too many ways, we have already failed the 13-year-old.

We failed him when school officials did not anticipate trouble on that bus ride home. And we failed him when no one else on the bus stood up to help.

If a judge decides next week that the appropriate punishment for the three defendants is nine months' worth of counseling and supervision, I fear we will have failed him again.

Even worse, we will have failed all the other kids who believe they should speak up when they see something wrong.

Comments
Is former Florida Gators lineman Taven Bryan a first-round NFL draft pick?

Is former Florida Gators lineman Taven Bryan a first-round NFL draft pick?

Aside from former Florida State safety Derwin James, the most likely first-round pick from a state college is ex-Florida defensive lineman Taven Bryan.He hopes, at least."That would (stink) if I didn't," Bryan said last month at Florida's pro da...
Updated: 9 minutes ago
The Daystarter: Lightning’s next opponent and playoffs’ economic impact; Rick Scott earns political victory; what goes on in that pink house?; it’s draft day for Bucs

The Daystarter: Lightning’s next opponent and playoffs’ economic impact; Rick Scott earns political victory; what goes on in that pink house?; it’s draft day for Bucs

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.• Another sunny day today with high temperatures in the low 80s, according to 10Weather WTSP. Friday brings the possibility of rain, and the weekend brings the heat: Sunday’s high is in...
Updated: 11 minutes ago
The Lightning is fun, but does its playoff run translate into dollars for Tampa?

The Lightning is fun, but does its playoff run translate into dollars for Tampa?

TAMPA — As the Tampa Bay Lightning wait for its next playoff opponent to come to town, the city’s business community — large and small — say they’ve already won this NHL postseason.At WestShore Plaza this week, with blue and white banners surrounding...
Updated: 24 minutes ago
SOCom leader wanted to toss Google exec from car. Because he was right.

SOCom leader wanted to toss Google exec from car. Because he was right.

TAMPA — Standing in front of an audience of several thousand scientists, data wonks, geospatial intelligence analysts and other big thinkers, Army Gen. Tony Thomas drew some laughs when he talked about the time he felt the urge to toss Google CEO Eri...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The last cigar factory in Tampa keeps rolling

The last cigar factory in Tampa keeps rolling

YBOR CITY -- History lives here, inside the J.C. Newman Cigar Co.Machines manufactured in the 1930s are still used to pack and roll the cigars, and the sights and smells are throwbacks. Tobacco bits litter the weathered wooden floor, and a pungent od...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Romano: Is it still environmentally conscious if it’s based on a sham?

Romano: Is it still environmentally conscious if it’s based on a sham?

Let’s discuss biosolids waste. I promise, it won’t be gross or boring.No, this is more of a how-did-we-lose-money-again bedtime story.Our tale begins around 2006 when St. Pete officials began exploring a biosolids project. The city was eventually goi...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The Iron Nun still going strong at age 88

The Iron Nun still going strong at age 88

TAMPA —These smart phones and computers and internet are big annoyances to Sister Madonna Buder.Every time she turns around, there's a message or a request or a question coming into one of her devices from somewhere in the world."What's all the...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Long wait at Wingstop ends in brawl, hot oil and 2nd degree burns

Long wait at Wingstop ends in brawl, hot oil and 2nd degree burns

TAMPA — A customer visited Wingstop on Sunday night to pick-up his order. What happened next was off-menu:Robert Williams said he suffered second-degree burns on his back and legs after a Wingstop employee threw hot oil on him during a scuffle.Willia...
Updated: 8 hours ago
FHP identifies driver in crash that killed

FHP identifies driver in crash that killed "smiling" teen

TRINITY — Friends said what they’ll remember the most about Lillia Morris is that she was always smiling.The 17-year-old Mitchell High School junior was killed Tuesday when a sport-utility vehicle ran a red light on State Road 54 and slammed into the...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Berlin stands against anti-Semitism; Toronto attack highlights misogynistic vitriol; inventor convicted of killing Kim Wall; more in world news

Berlin stands against anti-Semitism; Toronto attack highlights misogynistic vitriol; inventor convicted of killing Kim Wall; more in world news

Germany‘Today, we all wear kippa’ Germans of various faiths donned Jewish skullcaps and took to the streets Wednesday in several cities to protest an anti-Semitic attack in Berlin and express fears about growing hatred of Jews in Germany and across E...
Updated: 10 hours ago