Two Iowa teens face criminal charges for allegedly stripping the bark off a tree.
13-year-old Parker Niles, and his 14-year-old step-brother, Devon Barkem, were charged with “felony second-degree criminal mischief” in connection with removing bark from four to five feet of the trunk of a tree.
The incident, which was reported by a neighbor, took place on August 5, at a local elementary school children frequent as a hangout spot to play sports and socialize.
According to the mother of one of the boys, her son pulled a piece of bark that was falling off the tree, and other boys did the same thing. Two other kids reportedly carved their initials into the tree but were not charged.
The charges filed against the stepbrothers were based on an estimate for $1,166 to remove and replace the tree, since it will likely die, according to police.
The mother was frustrated that additional estimates weren’t sought, and that other possible solutions – such as community service or paying to replace the tree – weren’t proposed.
“I guess as a parent, I should be at fault for not teaching him that pulling bark off a tree will kill it,” she said. “I made sure to cover sex, drugs, drinking, responsibility, honesty and God, but trees, that one slipped my mind,” the mother said.
She said she will be allowed to submit an estimate she got, for $475, as part of the juvenile court proceedings.
A statement from Mason City Community Schools said the district was working with police and the families involved.
In what will most likely be a criminal history that will follow these young men around for the rest of their lives, one cant help but wonder why attempts weren’t made to solve this issue privately?