December 17, 2008
SIGNAL HILL — It may be tough love, but a Long Beach father got his point across with an unusual punishment for his son after he was caught vandalizing school property at Wilson Classical High School.
Dennis Baltimore, Jr., 16, had to walk the streets of Long Beach and Signal Hill for five hours Tuesday wearing a sign that read: “I have wasted your tax money with dumb acts of vandalism in the public schools.”
The teen cringed as onlookers laughed, pointed and took pictures.
“I want him to feel all of those things because I want him to always question himself before he makes a decision,” his father, Dennis Baltimore, Sr., said. “He just made a bad decision, and he has to pay for it.”
Baltimore, Sr., found out about the vandalism Monday, when his son’s school called him and told him the damages would cost $875. He said his son was trying to get attention when he tagged a fictitious gang logo on school property.
Baltimore, Jr., was suspended for four days, and ordered by the school to spend several days of his holiday vacation doing community service on Wilson’s campus. He will be painting over graffiti and doing other chores.
His father, though, wanted to make sure his son really got the message that “there are consequences and reactions.” He said he got the idea for his unusual punishment from a news story about a New York man who recently took to the streets in search of a job with his resume plastered on a sign board.
The punishment seems to have been effective.
“I was thinking about being a gang-banger, but once I saw what the punishment was, I was like, no,” Baltimore, Jr., said. “I’m really mad, confused and I feel dumb at the same time, but I understand what my dad is saying.”
Onlookers said they thought the punishment will help keep Baltimore, Jr., from getting into worse trouble in the future. “He looked embarrassed,” said one observer. “I think he’s learned his lesson.”