by Leah Waldron
Imagine you are sitting at home with your lesbian partner on a hot summer afternoon. You hear a teenager use an anti-gay slur outside your home, so you go outside and yell at her to stop. The girl, 16, has been taunting you and your partner with homophobic slurs for months. The girl runs off, but she returns with two friends and her brother and sister, who join in with the taunts. Suddenly, the five of them—all under the age of 16—pull you out of your home and start beating the crap out of you.
What you would do?
It sounds like the plot of a really twisted “Lifetime Original” movie, but it happened this week to 41-year-old Missourian Jeana Terry, who is recovering after a “kiddie attack” left her with so much facial damage that she requires eye surgery.
The two friends fled on foot, but the three siblings—aged 16, 13 and 11—have plead guilty to assault, burglary and trespassing. The 16-year-old may be tried as an adult for a hate crime, while the younger attackers, an 11-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl, are now in the custody of the Missouri juvenile justice system. As it turns out, Terry and her partner had been dealing with these mini-homophobes for months. Terry had even approached the kids’ parents, but nothing was resolved.
The mother of the three arrested children told the press that Terry and her partner, Lisa Lange, instigated the attack. I guess I can’t blame a mother for defending her children, but in a case like this, with multiple witnesses (and the two younger kids pleading guilty to all charges), the mother’s words fall a bit flat.
If it were me, and a bunch of neighborhood kids (who had been harassing me with gay slurs for months) entered my property and began beating the hell out of me, I don’t know if I would have hit them back, but it would have been tempting. It’s never happened to me personally, but I would be pretty defensive if anyone—16 years old or 60 years old—threw me to the ground and punched me in my face. But how do you begin to defend yourself against a pack of kids? If you hit them back, the fight is no longer one-sided, and you look like a dick for hitting a child. So you can try to aim for the oldest “kid,” the 16-year-old, who is at least roughly your size (if not mentally your inferior), and hope you don’t do any damage to the younger ones.
(Is anyone else shocked, at this point, that a fight like this could even take place? That five kids could jump an adult—any adult—for being gay?)
Consider the fact that a 5-on-1 fight (with attackers of any size) is dangerous as hell, and if you choose not to defend yourself, you are risking your life. Not to mention the criminal trespassing issue. The assault did not happen on a street corner, but on a woman’s personal property. If anyone—including a child—enters your property and physically assaults you, just about anything you do to defend yourself is within your legal right (aside from shooting them. That’s only legal in Missouri if the kids were armed burglars or rapists. But in the case of these kids, give them time).
Luckily for Terry, several people witnessed the attack, including a neighbor, who told police that the kids jumped on Terry, and then beat her to a pulp.
Some neighbors are actually pretty decent people.
Finally, here’s a teachable lesson for parents out there: if your neighbor comes to you and tells you that your kids are a bunch of harassing, homophobic little maniacs, take this as constructive criticism, and correct the problem. Or you may end up losing your kids to the State.