An 18 Smacked Production
One day after school, three twelve year-old boys; Wayne, Sam and Rob all met at the old farmer’s shack just down the hill from their school. This was the first time that Sam and Rob had played with Wayne, after school.
At Hilltop School, Wayne was in Miss Kay’s classroom, while best friends Rob and Sam were in Mrs. Daugherty’s sixth grade class. While Wayne and Sam were busy downstairs, Rob was enthralled by looking through the piles of newspapers and magazines upstairs, in one of the bedrooms. Some of these were more than 50 years old, and Rob was fascinated by the ancient headlines and stories. Suddenly, Rob was shocked to hear his two classmates yell, “I can’t get the flames out! Let’s get out of here! Rob- we gotta get outta here!!”
Rob raced downstairs and just got out of the shack as he turned around to see it quickly consumed by the flames. Hiding out in the woods across the street, Sam and Rob watched the Fire Department put out the flames that had demolished the old wooden structure. (Wayne had disappeared when they fled the shack.) Sam told Rob that Wayne brought the books of matches and dared him to light them. The magazines and newspapers inside, plus the wood of the old building, were all so dried out that they acted as tinder. Rob realized that he was extremely lucky to get out of there just when he did; one more minute, and he would probably have been trapped from being able to get out on his own!
The two boys hid out for about three hours when they finally decided to “face the music.” Rounding the corner of Sam’s house, the two were surprised to find a police car in the driveway. In the house, Sam's and Rob's parents were seated at the table with several policemen. In the living room, Rob went over his story multiple times with the police officers. Over and over, Rob said he had no idea that anyone had any matches or was lighting them downstairs and he definitely had not touched a single match the entire time they were there.
Sam, on the other hand, had been in the shack’s kitchen, lighting matches, blowing them out and then tossing the burnt remains on the piles of papers on the table. Hot embers from the matches must have lit the flames! As for Wayne, the policeman said that this was not his family’s first encounter with the police; he and his family were “well known” to the Police Department.
The question is, should Rob and Sam get the same punishment from their parents based on “guilt by association,” or, should consideration be given to the different roles they played?