2 Boys Face Felony Charges for Carving Their Initials Into a Tree

If there was one sign of romantic young love I remember well (from TV, unfortunately, and not from my own sad preteen years), it was the sweet gesture of carving your initials and a heart into the bark of a tree alongside those of your little boyfriend. The statement you were making to the world -- that your love was a permanent one -- may have been far-fetched, but it was still dreamy.

Kids these days are going to have to find a better way of expressing themselves than by defacing trees. Two boys, ages 13 and 14, recently found themselves posing for mug shots and dealing with FELONY charges after they reportedly got caught peeling the bark off of an old tree on their school's property.


Naomi Wells says she was "in shock" when she found out her son, Parker Niles, was being slapped with charges of second-degree criminal mischief -- a Class D felony. He and his 14-year-old stepbrother Devon Barkema reportedly removed the bark from a mature tree near Roosevelt Elementary School in Mason City, Iowa.

The boys were goofing around in the popular hangout area when a neighbor called police because she says she spotted them pulling at a piece of bark that was falling off the tree.

So here's the super-sketchy part of all of this: cops made the decision to charge them as felons because a tree service company estimated it would cost $1,166 to remove the dead tree and replace it. But Wells claims she received an estimate from a different company and hers came out to only $475 -- which would have made this crime a misdemeanor.

It seems totally outrageous that everyone involved couldn't sit down and work out an agreement here in order to keep these boys from having to face such heavy charges. I'm not justifying what they did, but I feel for this mom, who says she remembered to teach her son about sex, drugs, drinking, religion, and honesty, but somehow forgot to include lessons about trees.

I mean, come on.

A suitable consequence for these boys' actions would be to teach them about why peeling off the barks of trees is wrong and about the damage it can do to the environment. Make them spend every Saturday for nine months planting trees and plants in various sections of their community. But treating them like felons does not fit their crime.

Do you think the charge brought up against these boys is fair? What consequences do you think they deserve?


Image via Simon Davison/Flickr

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