Vandalism and Abuse of a flag at Utah High School

The small town of Hurricane, Utah has once again gained national attention after vandalism and signs of abuse of a flag were found at the local high school.

Small town, big news

Photo by: Lin Cheong

The small southern Utah town has made the news again not even a month after two students from Hurricane High School posted a disturbingly racist post on social media, gaining national attention and outrage. Now Hurricane, Utah has made headlines for flying an Isis flag at the local high school?

Legitimate threat or immature prank

Early last Thursday morning, one or more individuals removed the American flag from a flagpole outside the Hurricane High school, desecrating it. They then proceeded to replace the American flag with an Isis flag and continued their humorless prank by spray painting the side of the building. Concerned over the possibility of a terrorist threat, the local police department contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigations who deemed there to be no danger. The possibility of a prank is likely which could have been carried out by local residents or even students.

Abuse of a flag is no joke

Whether or not the shout out to Isis was a prank or not, abuse of a flag is not tolerated. Utah Code 76-9-601 states: “A person is guilty of abuse of a flag if he . . . Knowingly casts contempt upon the flag of the United States or of any state of the United States by publicly mutilating, defacing, defiling, burning, or trampling upon it. Abuse of a flag is a class B misdemeanor.” Adults or teens who wish to voice their frustration with the government are encouraged to seek legal avenues to make their voices heard.

Youth Hunters in Utah

There are many youth hunters in Utah who join their families for traditional hunting trips. These kids may have grown up surrounded by older family members who have been hunting for years, but they and their parents may not know what is required for them to participate.

Hunting in Utah

Youth Hunters in Utah
Photo by: Bob ‘n’ Renee

Hunting is a big sport in Utah with many kids becoming involved fairly young. Fishing is common for beginners while many kids gradually move on to hunt small game and even larger game, cougar or bear as they get older. Although the State of Utah “encourage[es] Utah’s youth to hunt, fish, watch wildlife and participate in shooting sports” there are some guidelines that must be obeyed as well as education required before they can hunt in Utah.

Age requirements

According to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, “In 2008, the Utah Legislature removed the minimum age requirement for hunting small game”. With adult supervision, all kids under the age of 15 are allowed to hunt duck, partridge, pheasant, turkey and waterfowl while those 12 or older may participate in big game, cougar and bear hunts.

Education and parental supervision

Not every child can pick up a rifle and head out hunting with their family. The child must be old enough to understand and complete a hunter education course first. One educated and registered, licensed youth hunters under the age of 15 must be supervised by an adult while hunting, no matter how experienced they are. Utah Code also states in 76-10-509 that older teens hunting alone must have permission from their parent or guardian to be in possession of a weapon and that firearm may not be a “handgun, ( . . . ) short barreled rifle, short barreled shotgun, or a fully automatic weapon” as described in section 76-10-509.4.

Unlawful Body Piercing and Tattooing of a Minor

Teens have many ways of expressing themselves through the way the look, yet when it comes to body piercing and tattooing, it is unlawful for anyone to perform either on a minor without consent from a parent.

Body piercing

Photo by: Roxie Rampage

Many teens in Utah have body piercings that do not include any piercings done on the ear. Body piercing can include: Nose, eyebrow, tongue, lip, belly button, nipples, and even genital piercing. While there are many parents that allow their minor children to explore with body piercings, many Utah teens obtain these piercings without permission from their parents.


Photo by: Rick Bergstrom

Unlike piercings which can be removed with the possibility of the piercing closing up, tattoos are forever. For this reason, most parents encourage their teens to wait until they are older to avoid to risk of having tattoo regrets. It is reported that almost 40% of teens have a tattoo before they reach the age of 18 years old. A large majority of those tattoos are also done without a parent’s permission or even knowledge.

Trouble for teens

Photo by: Soon

When a parent discovers that a teen has gone behind their back to get a body piercing or a tattoo, that minor can usually expect to get into trouble. Whether it is being grounded, losing a phone or car privileges, surprised and upset parents may punish their kids even though it cannot change a permanent decision.

Trouble for the artist

Photo by: kill

If a parent is upset about their child getting a body piercing or tattoo, they may go after the person responsible for giving the new body art to their teen. This can result in civil fines and criminal charges for the piercing and tattoo artist. Utah Code 76-10-2201 states “A person is guilty of unlawful body piercing [and tattooing] of a minor if their person performs or offers to perform a body piercing [or tattoo]:

(a) upon a minor;
(b) without receiving the consent of the minor’s parent or legal guardian; and
(c) for remuneration or in the course of a business or profession.”

Unlawful body piercing or tattooing of a minor is a class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of $1,000. Rebellious teens that don’t want to get others in trouble should either wait until the age of 18 or speak with their parents about their desire for body art.

Misdemeanor Charges for Stealing Road Signs as Souvenirs

Many teens see road signs as souvenirs that can be fun to hang from their bedroom walls, however stealing these signs can result in misdemeanor charges.

Illegal décor

Photo by: thecrazyfilmgirl

It isn’t uncommon to see the rooms of teenagers and even college students embellished with signs taken from Utah roads. While some signs are more popular than others, it seems any road sign in a room can be considered a “cool” thing to have.

Road signs

According to the Utah Driver Handbook, there are hundreds of different signs on the roads. These can include:

• Stop signs;
• Yield signs;
• Railroad warnings;
• Warning signs;
• Regulatory signs; and
• Signs informing drivers they are in a school zone.

These signs are posted for driver safety and instruction and without them, the risk of accident due to driver error increases. These signs frequently go missing however, and often appear in the rooms of local teens. Other signs that may find themselves missing on Utah roadways include street signs that happen to match a person’s name or a mile marker bearing a favorite number or signifying another number of importance to the thief.

Section 420

Photo by: Andrew

One of the most popular signs along Utah highways to go missing is mile marker 420. This number is celebrated among marijuana enthusiasts and is therefore common to wind up stolen repeatedly. Other states including Idaho, Colorado, and Washington have stopped replacing the stolen 420 signs and instead installed mile markers with the number 419.9 to discourage theft. Ironically enough, section 420 of Utah Code Chapter 8 part 4 warns Utah residents that stealing or damaging any road signs, including the 420 mile markers is illegal and punishable as a class B misdemeanor.

Common doesn’t mean legal

While possessing street signs is common, it doesn’t make it legal. Not only could removing or damaging road signs be seen as theft, the missing road signs could cause accidents with injuries that the sign thief could be held responsible for. Teens who wish to decorate with road signs are encouraged to purchase them from vendors and leave those installed on Utah roads alone.

Criminal Defamation Charges for Creating Fake Social Media Accounts

Using the internet to slander or hurt another person such as creating face social media accounts may result in teens facing criminal defamation charges.

Tech age

Photo by: Summer Skyes 11

Much of the communications going on between teenagers takes place over electronic devices through the use of text messaging as well as social media apps including Instagram, SnapChat, and Facebook. Often when things go sour, teens will take to the internet to simply vent and sometimes to retaliate on those who wronged them. Long ago were the days of whispering gossip in the school halls, as now everything is done from a teen’s cell phone. Malicious posts, IM’s, and even seconds long messages can spread like wildfire on social media, causing a lot of damage in its wake.

Fake social media accounts

Photo by: Perzonseo Webbyra

One very damaging way that teens may lash out at one another online is by creating fake social media accounts. These fake social media accounts are created to look as though they belong to the other person, leaving the begrudged peer open to ruin the other’s online reputation. Fake social media accounts are simple to set up and usually free as well. All that is needed is an email address which is also simple to obtain and a fake name, or the exact name of the detested teen. Photos can be easily stolen from the profiles of online accounts and teens then have a way to get revenge on those they loathe.

Digital footprint

Photo by: G =]

What happens on the internet stays on the internet and leaves a digital footprint there as well. Although social media accounts and email servers don’t require identification and can be created using phony information, law enforcement has ways to tie these malicious accounts back to the person that created them. When online communications are being spread at another’s expense, the aggressor could face criminal defamation charges.

Criminal defamation

Criminal Defamation
Photo by: New3dom3000

Utah Code 76-9-404 states: “A person is guilty of criminal defamation if he knowingly communicates to any person orally or in writing [or online] any information which he knows to be false and knows will tend to expose any other living person to public hatred, contempt, or ridicule. Criminal defamation is a class B misdemeanor”, punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine up to $1,000. Additionally, if any personal information about a minor is shared on the fake social media account without permission, the accused may also face a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of $2,500. Teens who are facing criminal charges for publicly slandering another online are encouraged to immediately seek legal counsel with their parents.