Cruel and unusual punishment or just good, old-fashioned discipline? Dennis Baltimore Jr. was caught vandalizing school property at Long Beach's Wilson Classical High School. He was sentenced by his dad to walk the streets of Long Beach and Signal Hill on Tuesday for five hours in two locations wearing a sign saying, "I am a juvenile delinquent who should be punished. I have wasted your tax money with dumb acts of vandalism in the public schools"... According to his dad [Dennis Baltimore Sr], the 10th-grader was trying to get attention when he painted graffiti of a fictitious gang on school property. "I was thinking about being a gangbanger, but once I saw what the punishment was, I was like, no," Baltimore Jr. said. The 16-year-old also cringed from the attention his punishment drew as onlookers laughed, pointed and took pictures while reading the sign. "I want him to feel all of those things because I want him to always question himself before he makes a decision," his father said. "You have to make conscious decisions. He's a good son; he just made a bad decision, and he has to pay for it." Baltimore Sr. encourages other parents to take the steps to make a positive difference in their children's lives. "I'm a concerned parent. I'm frustrated, and I'm sure I'm not alone," he said. "I'm sure there are some other parents who want to take actions like this and I encourage them to do it." The father knows there will be those who will disagree with the discipline, but he feels that it will change his son's view of responsibility. "I'm doing what I have to do to make him a man. That's my job," he said. "This is nothing compared to what could happen to him. He could get shot in the streets for something he thinks is minor." Onlookers agreed. "It's not harsh; I think it's pretty decent," said Ted Ybarra. "It's a way of disciplining him, for him to be embarrassed and show people what he did wrong." Baltimore Jr. was suspended for four days, and as part of the school's punishment, he will spend several days of his holiday vacation doing community service at Wilson. He will be painting over graffiti and doing other chores assigned by the school. "He has to understand that there are consequences and reactions," his father said. "This is a negative reaction"... "Right now I feel dumb and I regret everything I've done," Baltimore Jr. said. "I know my little sister is going to follow me and I'm going to tell her no"... "I'm really mad, confused and I feel dumb at the same time, but I understand what my dad is saying," he said. "I know he wants me to learn how to be a man and step up to my mistakes and learn by being punished. I did it, but I'm going to do better now. It's not worth it. "I'm done."Read the full article here. To commend staff writer Pamela Hale-Burns for presenting the story in a way fair to this concerned father, click here.
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Ex-Con: 'If my dad had done something like that to me, it probably would have helped me'
Long Beach,CA--"Another passerby, Adrian Paxton - released from prison in October - believes the punishment will help keep the younger Baltimore out of even worse trouble. "'He won't want to do that again,' he said... "Something as simple as a father's involvement could make a major difference in a child's life, Paxton said. "'If my dad had did something like that to me when I was doing my thing, it probably would have helped me,' he said." Concerned father Dennis Baltimore Sr. did what he thought he needed to do to keep his son on a good path. From Tough love or too tough? (Long Beach Press-Telegram, 12/16/08):