Viewpoint

Teacher assault bill too tough on students

From an editorial in the Fayetteville Observer on Sunday:

Diss a teacher, go to jail? Is that the way we want to run our schools? Haven’t we learned yet that locking kids up does little to make us safer and costs a fortune?

But that’s the road state Sen. Jerry Tillman wants to follow with a proposal to make simple assault of a public-school teacher an automatic felony for anyone 16 or older.

Current law makes the offense a misdemeanor. Simple assault doesn’t require touching the victim. It can be an attempt at intimidation. An accidental touch also qualifies. Violent attacks are already a felony.

By elevating these incidents to felonies, we'll be sending young, immature hotheads to jail instead of counseling. And by giving them a felony record, we'll be denying them a path toward college or a good job – and just about guaranteeing they'll be partly or entirely supported by the state for the rest of their lives. As state Sen. Angela Bryant put it, “Their life would basically be over.”

We’ve already got too many wasted lives in our society. No sense in adding more.

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