There is a horrific story out of Alabama where Christian Adamek, 15, committed suicide. Unfortunately, teen suicides are not uncommon but this suicide occurred after Adamek was arrested for running naked across the Sparkman High School football field and was told that he faced expulsion and be registered as a sexual offender. That is clearly too much for a 15-year-old kid, particularly after a common prank like streaking.
The day before Christian’s suicide, Sparkman High Principal Michael Campbell spoke to the media to emphasize that Christian would be handled as a criminal suspect: “There’s the legal complications. Public lewdness and court consequences outside of school with the legal system, as well as the school consequences that the school system has set up.” In Alabama, indecent exposure is linked to the state’s sex offender laws. In addition to Campbell’s public statements, Sparkman High administrators reportedly recommended that Christian face a hearing in the Madison County court system for possible formal charges. In addition, they moved to discipline him. In this interview, the principal says that the situation is far more serious than “they” realize and says that it is not simply a matter of a prank. The media coverage pushed the story that the teen would be going into the juvenile criminal justice system and could be labeled a sex offender.
It is hard to judge from the stories what emotional issues Christian may have been facing. However, the threats of criminal charges, and a sex offender listing, are ridiculous for a high school prank. We have seen a trend (here and here and here and here) of school officials criminalizing a wide range of conduct that was once treated matters for a sit down with parents and nothing more. It also reflects the seemingly exponential expansion of sex offender lists, which are increasingly put teenagers on a listing with lifelong burdens and stigma.
Once again, we do not know all of the influences on this tragic suicide. However, I fail to understand why such matters are immediately viewed as criminal matters for the principal and school officials.
Christian leaves behind his mother, Angela, and a sister and a brother.
Source: Daily Mail