This past week officials have decided that no criminal charges would be filed against the 9-year-old boy who started the Buckweed fire in Santa Clarita last month; the decision came after further investigation showed that the boy did not intentionally start the fire.
The boy admitted to police officials that he was playing with matches and a spark from the matches ignited the flames. The fire burned over 38,000 acres and destroyed roughly 20 homes. The fire was one of many wildfires that engulfed California last month.
Those who were affected by the fire for the most part have been understanding. Many support the decision to not pass criminal charges, but some feel that something should be done. This was not just a small accident or a tiny mistake that deserves a time out.
Proper punishment is hard to pass when dealing with a child. The old saying that the punishment should fit the crime cannot be applied in this situation. A child cannot be sent to jail for arson, and a child cannot pay damages. So the question of how to punish an individual who is not old enough to truly pay for their crime is raised.
Some would say punishment should be given to the parents of the young boy involved with starting the wildfire in Santa Clarita. It has been suggested that the parents should pay for a portion of the damages. This is an unrealistic option. According to officials, property damage from the fire is estimated to be millions of dollars. The parents of the boy would be in debt for the rest of their lives and with that it is doubtful that they would be able to come close to paying the damages.
Many would argue that even though this punishment is unrealistic, punishment should be inflicted to the parents. Children should grow up knowing right from wrong through guidance from their parents. Parents are in charge of shaping their children into model citizens, those who allow their children to run wild should be punished. However, who is to say that the parents of this child were bad. A child can be unruly no matter who their parents are, just look at Jenna Bush.
Proper punishment is hard to decide when dealing with someone who is young. Perhaps both parent and child should take responsibility for the actions that caused this horrendous incident. Parents of the child should have to volunteer to help teach the community about the dangers of fire. A court should decide the right amount of money that should be paid back to the community. The boy should teach fellow classmates about the dangers of playing with matches, should help clean up and repair damages left from the fire.?
Guilt is ultimately the biggest punishment. The guilt of knowing that you were the cause of great destruction is the greatest punishment that could be inflicted on someone so young. This child will have to live with the fact that even though it was an accident, he caused a tremendous amount of loss.
There are many different opinions out there on how a child should be punished for an act that quickly spread out of control. However, everyone can agree that the loss and devastation that stemmed from the wildfires of last month were great and felt everywhere.
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