I am writing in response to the article about the sentencing of the 13-year-old boy who viciously pummeled Buffalo teacher Beverly Piccillo. I thought his placement at Baker-Victory residential treatment facility for one year seemed more than fair, especially since he caused her permanent physical damage and the loss of a career she loved.
Erie County Family Court Judge Janice Rosa sent the right message to the teen and his family that people must be held accountable for their actions.
But I was struck with the comment made by the teen's lawyer, Michael Clohessy, that he "would appeal the sentence." This really concerns me. Exactly who would benefit from a lighter sentence? Certainly not Ms. Piccillo, who was hesitant about a placement but conceded to this one because she believes the teen will get help.
Nor will the youth benefit from a lighter sentence. It will probably take more than a year to help him learn to better control his violence, if he chooses to do so. It seems to me that this attorney believes he is obligated to represent his client's "best interests," and an appeal is the best way to do this.
Wrong! I have worked with disturbed youth for many years and I have seen good treatment efforts undermined by this kind of attitude on the part of usually well-meaning law guardians.
I am not for diminishing youths' rights. But I am for adults making reasonable efforts to help our hard-to-reach youth understand that when they cross societal boundaries, they must experience consequences that are direct, clear, unambiguous, firm and predictable. By allowing this youth a glimmer of hope that he may "get off," it sends the message that he is really not responsible. It will also make efforts at treatment even more difficult, if not impossible.
Unless adults better clarify what behavior is right and wrong, we will send conflicting messages to our troubled youth, thus allowing them to possibly go on to criminal behavior.
These youth need to experience the consequences of their behaviors so they can learn from their actions. This is the only way we can help them grow into responsible adults.
Max E. Donatelli Jr. Hamburg