Boy, 13, and girl, 11, face assault charge over hickey

Parents sought arrests to teach them a lesson

June 11, 1999|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,SUN STAFF

A 13-year-old Annapolis boy and an 11-year-old girl were charged with assault on each other after the girl's mother found a hickey on her neck, city police said yesterday.

Both sets of parents decided that arresting the children would teach them that kissing at their ages is "unacceptable behavior," police said.

The boy and girl, who live in the 400 block of Captain's Circle, were at a friend's house in the neighborhood at 8 p.m. Monday when, according to the police report, the boy left a "passion mark" on her neck "after she told him `no' and he continued against her will."

When the girl returned home and her mother spotted the mark about 50 minutes later, she called police, said Officer Eric Crane, Annapolis police spokesman.

After both sets of parents discussed the incident with the officer, they decided to file charges of second-degree assault because "they didn't feel that either of the juveniles were old enough to consent to intimate acts of any kind," the report said.

"The rationale behind that is, it started as both of them kissing and there was body contact on each individual," Crane said. "The parents felt they were too young to have this type of intimacy and maybe the police charges would scare them and say this is unacceptable behavior for 11- and 13-year-olds."

Crane would not release the names of the children or parents because the suspects are juveniles. He said both children will appear before a Juvenile Court judge within two weeks and will probably receive a sentence of community service or something such as writing a letter of apology.

The Annapolis arrests occurred less than two weeks after a 10-year-old Wicomico County boy was charged with four counts of assault and a fourth-degree sexual offense after five 8- to 10-year-old girls were approached from behind and their bra straps were snapped. Officer Timothy Lowe, who made the arrests in the hickey incident, said both sets of parents were "slightly upset" during the discussion and that the boy and girl "were just quiet" when he arrested them.

"They didn't really have any reaction," Lowe said.

Two other children who were in the friend's house at the time of the incident said they did not see anything, Lowe said.

When a victim is a juvenile, police have no discretion in whether to file charges if an accusation is made, Crane said. "The way it works with juveniles is, if a parent says, `I want that person criminally charged' the officer is obligated by law to do his duty."

Crane said he hopes the boy's arrest will teach children a lesson about knowing when to back off.

"This is not a laughing matter," he said. "According to the girl, she said, `I didn't want the hickey. I told him no.' If someone tells you `no' or `stop,' `no' means `no' and `stop' means `stop.' This is what we need to get out to kids. It doesn't matter what age you are. The ramifications of your actions could get you in trouble. If they were older, this could have become a much more serious incident."

Child advocacy experts and psychologists were flabbergasted yesterday at the measures the s parents took, saying the children could get the wrong signals about the natural tendency to explore sexual feelings during adolescence.

"This gives kids the impression that sexuality is bad," said Robert Butterworth, a Los Angeles child psychologist. "It could heighten their guilt about innocent things and tell them that any kind of innocent exploration is a no-no. It's part of growing up."

Susan Leviton, a University of Maryland law professor who represents children and is founder of Advocates for Children and Youth, said she questions the parents' ability to raise their children if they have to rely on police help to teach them.

"Isn't this something that parents would want to take care of themselves and not involve the courts?" Leviton said. "It sends the message that these parents can't take care of their kids. I believe that parents and schools should be talking to kids about what is appropriate. I just don't approve of using the courts this way."

Pub Date: 6/11/99

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