Bullying in Utah Elementary Schools

Bullying is a problem through most middle to high schools in Utah but many parents are surprised to know it can begin as early as elementary school.

Photo by: Working Word

Bullying starts young

Bullying is most prevalent among middle school age children, but elementary and even preschool age kids can demonstrate early signs of bullying. Young children may act aggressively towards other children to get what they want or they may find that making fun of another child results in laughs from peers. While preschool age children may not have the understanding needed for their actions to constitute deliberate bullying, if unchecked, their behavior may develop into worse conduct as they enter grade school.

Kids at risk of being the bully

Once kids enter elementary school, they begin to observe more how their behavior affects their peers. While this could help kids develop more empathy and concern for others, it can backfire by showing children how to best bully those around them. There are several reasons why a child bullies another:
• They may be mimicking behavior seen at home;
• They could be using bullying to get attention or higher social standing amongst their peers;
• They could hurt another because their own self-esteem is low;
• Or they may have underdeveloped empathy, leaving them unable to see how their behavior is affecting others.

Kids at risk or being bullied

With every bully comes a victim. Sometimes there are multiple victims to one bully but usually there is a single child being picked on, and oftentimes by more than one of their peers. According to stopbullying.gov, “young people who are perceived as different from their peers are often at risk for being bullied.” Some examples of why certain kids are bullied include:
• A child who is naturally taller or built bigger than their classmates;
• A student with disabilities;
• Those who have non-traditional families including children of divorcees;
• A child who isn’t involved with local religious groups;
• Children of ethnic minorities;
• Kids who are naturally quiet or withdrawn, seen as easy targets that won’t fight back.

Prevent bullying at home

Parents are encouraged to teach their children empathy and compassion for others and to nip any signs of bullying in the bud as soon as they occur. Bullying that is not resolved can lead to suspension or expulsion from school and criminal charges if physical harm or threats occur or if electronic devices are used to torment others. Parents whose children are facing charges related to bullying should consult legal counsel from a juvenile defense attorney.

Robbery Plan in Utah Results in First-Degree Felony Charges for Teens

A teen who made a plan to kidnap and rob his old roommate in Utah is now sitting in the Salt Lake County Jail charged with multiple offenses including first-degree felony charges.

Robbery and a beating

Photo by: Geoffrey Fairchild

18 year old Eduardo Michael Miranda-Carmona who the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office list as being a citizen of Mexico got together with a few friends and planned a robbery of someone who used to be his roommate. The roommate was jumped while leaving work, stabbed, tied up, and thrown into the back of a vehicle. There Miranda-Carmona and friends robbed the man at gunpoint, used his credit cards illegally, and dumped him to be found by a Utah policeman on patrol.

First, Second, and Third-degree felonies

The man who was robbed knew Miranda-Carmona as the two were old coworkers and roommates. This, along with security footage likely helped detectives to quickly identify and arrest Miranda-Carmona. He is currently in the Salt Lake County Jail with multiple felony and misdemeanor charges including:

• First-degree aggravated robbery with a weapon (76-6-302);

• First-degree aggravated kidnapping (76-5-302);

• Second-degree aggravated assault resulting in bodily injury (76-5-103);

• Third-degree unlawful acquisition or possession of a finance card (76-6-506.3); as well as

• Contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a class B misdemeanor.

Three other teens involved

Over the next few weeks, police were able to identify and arrest 19 year old John Ewing as well as two under age juveniles in the aggravated robbery case. With multiple felony offenses including two first degree felony charges, all four teens are looking at several years to life in prison for what appears to be a vindictive and maybe financially motivated crime, coordinated by one.

Fight Nights Remain Popular among Teens and Everyone is talking about it

As a popular, yet absurd way to pass the time, fight nights remain popular among Utah teens and everyone is talking about it, even parents.

Boredom buster

Fight Nights
Photo by: Milos Milosevic

Fight nights became popular after the 1999 film Fight Club that glorified organized violence as a fun activity to pass the time. Nearly two decades later, these violent get togethers continue to be a favorite pastime and the younger generation is keeping it going strong. A group of teens in southern Utah recently participated in a fight club as a way to kick off the summer during senior sunrise.

Organized violence

Most fight nights in Utah are at least somewhat organized as someone thinks enough of it to bring boxing gloves to a get together. There are many times when fight nights are well thought out and planned, with some events demanding an entrance fee to participate or view.

Physical injuries

While physical injury is expected, teens often don’t understand that fight nights don’t always end with a simple split lip or bloody nose. Concussions, knocked out teeth, and broken noses or other bones are common and can have unexpected recovery times and medical costs. Beyond physical injuries, these types of events can also damage a teen emotionally.

Emotional injuries

Photo by: Ian T. Macfarland
Photo by: Ian T. Macfarland

While some fight nights only see contestants fighting who desired to participate, others may involve someone calling another person out and putting them on the spot to fight or flee. Teens who originally had no intention to fight may feel pressured to participate to save themselves from being humiliated. Others who refuse or those who lose mercilessly may be publicly taunted and tormented by their peers.

Criminal charges for fight nights

If physical and emotional injuries aren’t enough to deter teens from participating in fight nights, maybe criminal charges will get their attention. Utah Code 63N-10-306 states that “Club fighting is prohibited. Any person who publicizes, promotes, conducts, or engages in a club fighting match is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.” Those charges could result in a year behind bars and a fine of up to $2,500. Parents who allow or even supervise their teens to participate in fight nights can also face criminal charges. As teens attempt to fill their summer with fun and exciting activities, it is important to discourage organized violence as a way to beat the summer boredom.

Differences between Juvenile Court and Adult Court in Utah

When a teenager in Utah is charged with a crime, it can be handled by either the juvenile court or the adult court and it is important to know the differences between the two.

Juvenile court

Juvenile Court or Adult Court
Photo by: State Farm

Although the juvenile court handles cases of criminal activity by minors, it is a civil court where the goal is not to punish kids but to teach and rehabilitate them while also ensuring that they are not a danger to the community. Utah Code 78A-6-102 states: “The purpose of the [juvenile] court is to:

(a) promote public safety and individual accountability by the imposition of appropriate sanctions on persons who have committed acts in violation of law;

(b) order appropriate measures to promote guidance and control, preferably in the minor’s own home, as an aid in the prevention of future unlawful conduct and the development of responsible citizenship;

(c) where appropriate, order rehabilitation, reeducation, and treatment for persons who have committed acts bringing them within the court’s jurisdiction;

(d) adjudicate matters that relate to minors who are beyond parental or adult control and to establish appropriate authority over these minors by means of placement and control orders;

(e) adjudicate matters that relate to abused, neglected, and dependent children and to provide care and protection for minors by placement, protection, and custody orders;

(f) remove a minor from parental custody only where the minor’s safety or welfare, or the public safety, may not otherwise be adequately safeguarded; and

(g) consistent with the ends of justice, act in the best interests of the minor in all cases and preserve and strengthen family ties.”

Adult criminal court

If a teenager is charged with a felony listed under Utah’s Serious Youth Offender Act (78A-6-7), their case can be transferred to adult court where they can face serious repercussions including hefty fines and lengthy imprisonment. Offenses that are included in the Serious Youth Offender Act include:

• aggravated cases of arson;
• assault;
• kidnapping;
• burglary;
• robbery; and
• sexual assault; as well as
• felony discharge of a firearm;
• attempted aggravated murder; or
• attempted murder; or
• any subsequent offense involving the use of a dangerous weapon;

Juvenile defense attorney

Unfortunately in adult court, it is less lenient that juvenile court and those facing adult criminal charges should expect their sentencing to include more punishment without so much focus on education and rehabilitation. Additionally, once a case goes to adult court, those records which include the juvenile’s name are released to the public. For these reasons, it is imperative that juveniles and their parents and/or guardians seek counsel from a criminal defense attorney who has dealings with both the juvenile court as well as the adult court, and who will try diligently to keep all cases against minors within the juvenile court jurisdiction.

Teenagers Sneaking Soda Ends with Assault on an Officer

Three teenagers from southern Utah were arrested after one was caught sneaking soda and the others chose to intervene forcefully, one committing assault on an officer.

Those cups are for water only

Photo by: Bill Selak
Photo by: Bill Selak

An employee of a fast food restaurant in southern Utah contacted police after a 16 year old filled a cup of soda without purchasing it then knocked the employee down when the stolen drink was taken back and dumped. Officers located the teen at home, expecting to speak with the 16 year old and his parents. Instead they ended up calling over a dozen other officers for backup and arrested the 16 year old and two of his friends for an array of charges including assault on an officer.

Interfering and assault on an officer

Interfering and Assault on an Officer
Photo by: Chris Yarzab

When officer arrived at the home to speak with the teen, other people at the residence tried to intervene with the officer’s investigation. As the 16 year old was being led by police to the squad car, 19 year old Marcus Quiddam became agitated and chest bumped the officer. Not stopping there, Quiddam caused the officer to fall backward, resulting in minor injuries to the officer when he attempted to break his fall. The 16 year old and another aggravated minor were arrested for interfering with an arrest. Quiddam was also charged for his interfering as well as assault on an officer, a class A misdemeanor.

Rising tensions

Photo by: Kate Ausburn
Photo by: Kate Ausburn

With tensions rising between police officers and those they are sworn to serve and protect, many forget there are laws in place to protect the officers. Teens especially are at risk for crossing the line and facing charges as they can be emotionally driven as well as uneducated as to the specific laws regarding acting out toward law enforcement. It is important to teach children to continue to stand up for what they believe but to do it in accordance with the law.