I read stories like this one from the UK about a women using mild force to protect a war memorial from disruptive "youths" and I wonder if adults should be given a presumption of justification for stand-alone instances of violence against kids.

Julie Lake, 50, believed the 15-year-old was one of a number of youths who had damaged the remembrance garden in her village dedicated to those killed fighting for Britain.

But Mrs Lake was arrested after giving a boy, whom she believed to be the ringleader, a talking-to and a 'cuff round the ear'.

She tackled him after she saw at least one youth riding a BMX bike through freshly-laid flower beds.

Magistrates heard that when she grabbed his shirt collar, he said: 'That's assault'.

Mrs Lake claimed she was performing a 'moral obligation' following months of anti-social behaviour and vandalism at the memorial.

But weeks later she was arrested and yesterday was convicted of assault, criminal damage and a public order offence at North Avon Magistrates Court in Yate, near Bristol.

I don't think that repeated patterns of violence against children by an adult should be tolerated of course, but I do think that kids should be scared of adults, and especially of strangers. Children and teenagers should be afraid to act disruptively and abusively in public, and if it takes a "cuff round the ear" to make it so, I'm fine with that.

I'm not exactly sure how the law should be crafted, but the case against Mrs. Lake should have been laughed out of court and the "youths" should have been punished (further). The new law would need to punish domestic child abuse, but shouldn't prevent adults from keeping strange kids in line in public places.

She told how the gang surrounded her, pushed her and shouted: 'You can't touch us, we're 15, we can do what the f*** we like.'

When the 15-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was questioned in court about the war memorial, he replied: ''It means nothing to me, I guess it's for some people who died in the war.'

If the system weren't so stacked in their favor, I don't think it would take long for kids to realize that they'd better shut up and keep a low profile around adults. I doubt much actual force would need to be used if the threat of force were once again widespread.

(HT: Rachel Lucas.)

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