The American way of life changed last Monday when intrepid New York Times columnist Bob Herbert traveled to Avon Park, Florida (a "backward city," he writes), population 8,872, to document an emerging national pandemic. That's how Herbert would tell it, at least. His column recounts the story of 6-year-old Desre'e Watson, who was arrested after a prolonged, violent outburst in her kindergarten classroom, and whose case is apparently part of "an outlandish trend of criminalizing very young children that has spread to many school districts and law enforcement agencies across the country." Of course, one might say that the real "trend" is one of lawsuits and classroom violence forcing school administrators to abdicate authority for fear of being sued. Arresting 6-year-olds is dumb and inexcusable, but one wonders why Herbert needed to fly to Avon Park to make that oh-so-insightful point. (How far is Avon Park from Panama City Beach--Spring break capital of Florida--anyway?)

"6-Year-Olds Under Arrest," by Bob Herbert, New York Times, April 9, 2007 (subscription required)

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