Police Unable to Charge Juvenile Assault Offenders Due to New Maryland Laws

Aberdeen, MD News (2/13/2023) – On February 9, 2023, the Aberdeen Middle School in Harford County, Maryland, was the site of a chaotic and upsetting incident. According to reports, a 12-year-old male student allegedly touched several female students inappropriately during a school dance, causing distress among students and their families. As word of the alleged assaults spread, the situation escalated, leading to the early termination of the dance and the evacuation of all students and parents from the building.

The Aberdeen Police Department was called to the scene to assist the School Resource Officer (SRO) with managing the large, disorderly crowd. Upon arrival, they met with the victims who came forward to report the assaults, but due to recent changes in Maryland’s juvenile justice legislation, criminal charges will not be filed against the 12-year-old suspect. The new law, passed in 2022, prohibits police from criminally charging suspects under the age of 13, instead opting for a more rehabilitative approach towards juvenile justice.

The events that took place at Aberdeen Middle School are a shocking reminder of the importance of ensuring student safety in schools. The safety and well-being of students should always be the top priority for schools and law enforcement agencies, and it’s commendable that the Aberdeen Police Department and Harford County Public Schools are taking the necessary steps to address this situation as they can within the confines of the law.

The events at Aberdeen Middle School also raise important questions about the current state of juvenile justice reform in Maryland and across the country. The recent legislation aimed at reducing the number of juvenile offenders who are incarcerated and instead providing them with resources and support to help turn their lives around is a step in the right direction. The goal of this reform is to break the cycle of criminal behavior that often results from harsh punishments and lack of support in the juvenile justice system. However, this severely limits the ability of law enforcement to respond to serious events, such as this one.

Article by RFHC staff, based upon press release from Aberdeen Police Department.

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