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KORENICH: Teens need to be held accountable for their actions

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

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This month, five Michigan teens were accused of killing a father by throwing rocks, one of which was 20 pounds, off an overpass. The boys, who were teenagers, claimed they were playing a game called “dinging” where they throw rocks off the overpass to hear them ding against the cars. This was not an isolated incident — apparently the boys had thrown a shopping cart and chairs over the overpass before.

The boys were held without bond and were charged as adults with second-degree murder. In cases like this, it is important that teens are held accountable for their actions.

All of the boys in this case were under 18 years old, but were rightfully charged as adults. In cases with minors, it’s often a toss-up whether they will be tried as adults or teenagers. Sometimes it makes sense to try teens as minors, like if the case is less severe or if there are other extenuating circumstances.

Other times, teens should be tried as adults, but because of their ages they get lesser punishments. If a competent and able-bodied person commits a crime, they need to be prepared to face consequences, especially when the crime results in the death of an innocent man like it did in this case.

These boys knew what they were doing. This was not a lighthearted prank. They had done something like this before, and they thought it was okay. They decided to kick it up a notch and throw a 20-pound rock, which anyone could clearly see as a dangerous, horrible idea.

Although the boys probably weren’t intentionally trying to hurt someone, they’re old enough to know what they are doing. Oftentimes the argument against trying teens as adults is that it will ruin their lives. They may have to spend an extended time in prison and will lose their childhood, and their lives will completely change. This, of course, is true, but they ruined somebody else’s life and should have to acknowledge that. Again, in this case not only did they kill a man, but they destroyed a family. The man that they killed had a five-year old son who is now wondering why his dad isn’t coming back.

Furthermore, they ruined their own lives by committing this crime. No one told them they had to throw the rock. Therefore, it is not the court system that is “robbing them of their childhood.” The teens have only themselves to blame. These situations are tragic for everyone. Families are losing people dear to them, and people’s lives are being ruined.

As a teenager, what is right and wrong is clear. Teenagers are at an age where they can decipher what is the correct thing to do, and when they do something wrong they need to take responsibility. When looking at severe crimes like this one, age shouldn’t be considered— the actions should. If an individual kills someone, it really shouldn’t matter if they’re 13 or 37. I’m not talking about kids who are too young to know right from wrong, but anyone past that age needs to be charged appropriately.

Another reason why teenagers need to be held accountable isn’t just for justice for the family but for the safety of the public. If we don’t punish teens who do something wrong, we put other people in danger. Obviously these teens thought there was nothing wrong with throwing rocks over the overpass, and it seems that if they weren’t convicted and were just given a slap on the wrist, they would continue to do the same things they have in the past.

 

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