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Officials hone in on reports of assaults in Baltimore schools

Facing criminal charges as a teenager is undoubtedly a scary experience. Not only do young people have to concern themselves with the immediate consequences of a criminal conviction, but they may also have to deal with the reality of a criminal charge for the rest of their adult lives. Knowing this, a recently released report may be of interest to teenagers throughout the Baltimore area.

Last fall, accusations of a student-led assault on a substitute teacher sent shockwaves throughout Maryland. It also sparked an investigation into the issue of violent crimes in Baltimore-area schools. The recently released study claims that about 4,000 incidents of teachers being assaulted occurred in local schools over the past two years, and the largest share involved eighth and ninth graders.

The results of this report may cause students to become the subject of intense scrutiny after being accused of committing an act of violence against a school staff or faculty member. The nature of juvenile criminal charges deserves careful attention and sensitivity.

One concerning aspect of this story is that teenagers accused of assault may be charged as adults. Teens are susceptible to making mistakes and a momentary lapse in better judgment could lead to criminal charges that permanently remain on a person's record, which could severely limit employment, housing or educational opportunities down the road.

Additionally, gestures or light contact can be interpreted as assault. A number of the instances of assault uncovered in the Baltimore investigation were incidents in which students simply made contact with a teacher rather than striking them. In this scenario, it is important to establish the intent of the student in question. If an individual didn't intend to commit a criminal act of violence, then assault charges may not hold up in court.

Source: ABC 2 News, "Student on teacher assaults on rise," Brian Kuebler, Feb. 26, 2013

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