It’s hard to imagine a world where teenagers face police arrest for attending school too often, but it’s where we’re at, writes Sarah Blake.
It’s hard to imagine a world where teenagers face police arrest for attending school too often, but it’s where we’re at, writes Sarah Blake.

America is arresting children over COVID

OPINION

Just when you thought 2020 couldn't get more ridiculous here, a high school student has been arrested for turning up at school and demanding to be allowed into class.

And Top Gun fans are going to love his name: Maverick Stow.

Maverick is 17 and starting his senior year in a New York State high school in Long Island, which is the kind of town (population 15,000) that Americans like to call a "hamlet" and has merchants with names like Gabe's Auto Repairs, Poospatuck Smoke Shop and EmpanadaVille.

It's on the way to the Hamptons, but also a long way from the Hamptons.

Maverick turned up on Tuesday at William Floyd High School, despite it being his scheduled day for remote learning, with New York schools offering alternating days of in-school classes for social distancing.

 

Maverick reckons he should be allowed to go to school five days a week so he turned up again on Wednesday, even after copping a five-day suspension the day before. The school warned him he faced criminal trespass charges if he showed his face again before the suspension was over.

But he wasn't to be deterred and turned up Thursday in a fluoro lime green shirt and readied himself for some learning.

"Well, I've just been trying to go to school - and they've been consistently disallowing me to … I'm going to go into school and they're going to call the police and I'm going to be arrested this morning," he told the local press.

He was right. Suffolk County police officers charged him with third-degree criminal trespass and he's due to appear in court later this month.

Of course there is more than one side to this story - public safety, a kid trying to score cheap points against the system, and a young man's right to enjoy a normal senior year with his friends.

 

 

Pick your point of view. None is completely wrong and none is completely right.

It seems like it's time to allow people to push back against what sometimes seem like arbitrary rules designed to fit a COVID era which no-one really understands. Look at Victoria - does anyone understand the plan there?

The move to arrest a teenager for demanding to be allowed to go to school is a step too far. Especially in a nation where for months people have been freely gathering at beaches, sidewalk dining areas, on public transport and at protests and riots.

Don't blame the kid for this mess. Work with him to find a solution that everyone can live with, rather than attempt to make him the villain.

It's time to forget about rigid rules and handcuffs and arrest warrants when it comes to dealing with the unprecedented situations we find ourselves in thanks to the pandemic. We're all in this together. Nobody asked for this (not anyone I know anyway).

It's time to find a way out of this cluster using our brains and compassion, not our big sticks.

Originally published as Arresting children won't keep us safe from COVID


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