No Confession, No Lunch: Idaho High School Reportedly Imposes Collective Punishment On Male Students

1377365540882_wnp250It appears that the school officials at Bonners Ferry High School have learned to appreciate the concept of collective population punishment. After a series of faux bomb threats scrawled in the boy’s bathroom, school officials have placed large areas under continual surveillance and reportedly withheld food from all boys to try to prompt them to turn in the culprits.

Last year, the school had a wave of hoax threats. Two students were prosecuted and another was expelled as a result. After shutting down the school after someone scribbled something referring to a bomb, the school reportedly told parents that male students would be denied lunches since the boy’s bathroom was the scene of the scribbling.

I certainly understand the frustration of the school since this is the 11th such hoax. However, the article below reports that the school responded with collective punishment based on gender: all male students at the high school lost their lunchtime privileges for two days to put pressure on students to turn in their friends.

There are a number of problems. Starting with the least problematic, two days of bag lunches hardly seems likely to produce public condemnations or confessions. Second, why wouldn’t there also be a possibility that girls also know of the culprit? Third, in my day, denial of a school lunch would be a reward as a protection from Sloppy Joe overload.

Finally, and more importantly, the school is teaching students that collective punishment and coercions is a proper response to such problems. No individualized suspicion. No reasonable suspicion. Just collective punishment due to some clown who scribbled a thoughtless note on some bathroom stall.

However, Richard Conley, superintendent of the Boundary County School District insists “I think the message got sent. We’ve had a very, very good response from the student body.”

In case any of the “Badger Boys” are looking for authority, they may want to cite Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention: “No persons may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.” The association of collective punishment with terrorism is worth noting.

Moreover, I am bit surprised that the school can suspend school lunches, which are subject to state and federal law.

I am not saying that this is akin to the Germans taking out every tenth male for a firing squad in a French village for punishment for the activities of the Maquis in World War II. Two days of bag lunches is not a major punishment. However, the use of collective punishment sounds a terrible message to students about basic rights and due process.

What do you think?

Source: Spokesman

49 thoughts on “No Confession, No Lunch: Idaho High School Reportedly Imposes Collective Punishment On Male Students”

  1. Now the school is now vulnerable for a huge lawsuit regarding sex discrimination.

  2. When this happened in my kid’s elementary school the secretary would put the phone on hold or ask them to leave a number so we could call back. In the high school, we put up flyers explaining that calling in bomb threats is a felony and violators would be put in jail. Guess what? It stopped. Let’s be the adults here and treat kids like kids. There are internal measures that should be routine protocol so you know if there is something out of the ordinary in sight.+

  3. RobinH45 – I have no idea whether or not teens in large cities committed pranks or vandalism or skipped school. It was never my experience, nor that of most people where I grew up. We were expected to “get a good education” and if we didn’t it would reflect badly not only on ourselves but our parents and extended family. Skipping school or getting into trouble did not figure in that scenario.

    When you live in an ultra-small community where everyone really does know everyone else (and may be related to many of them), take the bus to/from school ten miles one way, no, you don’t do irresponsible things like commit acts of vandalism, or pull stupid stunts like a bomb threat, and you don’t skip school because you’re expected to help out with chores before and after school, and there is no way to get home without a car. Very few kids had cars in those days – early ’60s – even if we did learn to drive farm vehicles on our parents’ property long before we were old enough to obtain a driver’s license.

    You also don’t commit crimes for fear of bringing shame to your parents and family – and even the community if the crimes are big enough. Where I came from in a different state, the community was even smaller (much smaller!) than Bonners Ferry. In rural farming communities, kids who lived on farms got up early in the morning with their parents and did chores before coming to school, then again at night when they got home. Many teens had the maturity of their parents in that regard, and as it turned out, many of the teens within five years of my age did, in fact, take over the family farms in due course. [After graduation some also died in Vietnam, including friends of mine; it was a terrible blow to such a small community to lose so many good young men to an illegal, unconstitutional, unjustified war.] If the boys participated in sports, it was mandatory for them to have a B average or higher (jocks did not get special treatment then), and their practices were before or after school, not during. I think we were just more grown up in those days, and far more mentally and emotionally mature than today’s kids. Very few of us had televisions, and out in the dingtoolies the picture was pretty much snowy black and white and we only got a couple of channels. Television was not an important part of our daily lives until 22 November 1963. In my case, I also liked learning, liked school – still do, have a large personal library – so it never occurred to me to skip school.

    I don’t believe in protecting criminals. The protector becomes every bit as culpable as the one(s) who actually did the crime (in this case, threats of a bomb which cost lots of money for police, fire, and rescue personnel to check whether or not it was serious or a prank while leaving the rest of the community unprotected, and vandalism).

    They may start out with petty crimes (aka “pranks”) in grade school or high school, but by the time they are adults…, then older adults (say, like the “leaders” of this nation from ’01-’08)…, the criminals have then progressed to more serious crimes, probably blackmail, likely physical violence, and they expect everyone is going to protect them and not hold them responsible for their crimes (or even investigate the lies and war crimes they’ve committed or ordered in the case of Bush-Cheney & their criminal cabal). They expect they’re going to receive privileged treatment, be protected from prosecution by a wall of silence from those who know which crimes they’ve committed, and be able to get away with crimes all of their lives, no matter how much misery they cause others, or how much money it costs others. They will never take responsibility for their actions or be held accountable as long as people protect them from prosecution.

    Worse, these “leaders” who expect to be protected from prosecution give the people they ordered to torture others the worst out ever: the Nuremberg Defense – they won’t be held accountable for their crimes “because they were following orders.” The judges at Nuremberg determined that “I was only following orders” is NOT a just defense for committing crimes. The UCMJ thereafter said military personnel could/must disobey an illegal or immoral order. Fast forward fifty years, torture is the new normal, as is illegal and unconstitutional war, rights are taken away from all of us as though our constitution was never written… and… Shaaaaaaazam! Criminals who order someone to commit crimes (torture, invading another country both of which are war crimes) and those who actually did the crimes are not held legally responsible for their crimes (this has happened in both the Bushista and Obama administrations).

    Criminals have become the protected and privileged class in our society, torture and other cruelties have become the new normal, criminals have become the cult figures to emulate, and it’s all reflected back at us on our television screens that are approaching the size of jumbotrons and telescreens are already a reality.

    Somewhere on this blog Jonathan Turley has lamented the fact that the Nuremberg Defense has been invoked to protect torturers and those who ordered torture. Go ahead and search for the blog entries. I was just as horrified and incredulous as Jonathan when I heard that news; I can still barely believe it. I also thought we’d have our rights restored to us by now under Obama’s “leadership.” When that didn’t happen by 1 Feb ’08, I knew it would be an uphill battle to get our rights back, but now I’m wondering if that will ever happen in my lifetime.

    Regressive changes in our culture, our society, really do start when kids are in grade school and high school (if you live to be my age you can follow the trends). Better to stop that sort of behavior when kids are young. The only way to do that is to hold them responsible for their transgressions, and hold those who protect these young criminals responsible for their silence since they have become the protectors of the criminals among them.

  4. Hoosker, I’m retired now (first year Baby Boomer), but I was a police dispatcher and a police officer when I was young. I’m from the generation of women who did a lot of firsts, including professions that were traditionally male.

  5. These are POWs….. If you think about it….or the prison system or the army….. But then again… The court says prisoners have rights….

Comments are closed.