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Kids shouldn't joke when it comes to the law

May 18, 2008
There seems to be a trend going around with kids these days, and I hope parents are paying close attention and nip it in the bud before it gets more serious than it already is.

Recently, our region has seen a handful of incidents in which kids have been calling 911 and pretending to be in trouble, thus sending police out to look for the person thinking there is a real problem.

Eventually, it has been found out the kids were playing a prank and law enforcement stopped their search.

That is a major problem, and I hope there are consequences for those kids trying to pull these "jokes."

Normally, pulling pranks might seem like harmless fun, especially when it is something small and done to friends or family. However, doing something like this when it involves lying to law enforcement and other emergency services is anything but harmless.

Just think about how you would feel if you were in trouble, and instead of being able to be there to help you the local police officers are trying to track down a fake kidnapping report.

Thankfully, most communities have enough police officers to cover more than one situation, but there are some towns in the region that may only have two or three on duty at any one time.

Filing a false police report is a crime, and hopefully, those who do so, no matter what their age may be, are punished for this crime.

If it is a kid, then perhaps their parents also should face some consequence.

After all, many places punish parents if their kids habitually don't attend school, so why not have a similar situation when kids play pranks on the police.

It is one thing if a toddler accidentally dials 911 because he doesn’t understand what he’s doing. It's an entirely other thing if a teen starts texting friends and pretends to be kidnapped and stuck in someone's trunk, or calling 911 and saying they are in trouble somewhere in Pittsburgh when, in fact, they're in Ohio.

I'm not necessarily saying there should be jail time involved, but perhaps if the parent or child had to pay a fine to cover the costs of the effort by police officers.

Maybe the fine could cover the cost of the gasoline used while officers drive around making the search, even help out with some of the officers' salary. I think it's only fair they be compensated in some way when someone sends them on a wild goose chase.

Maybe then, kids would learn not to cause trouble like this, and the parents would learn to keep a better eye on what their children are doing.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is city editor for The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at

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