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Don't Do the Crime if You Can't Wear the Sign

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Wearing a symbol of your crime on your chest for all to see is at least as old a punishment as Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter, and this old school-style discipline is making a comeback.

Yesterday in Long Beach and Signal Hill, a 16-year-old high schooler was made to stand on the street bearing a sign that said: "I am a juvenile delinquent who should be punished. I have wasted your tax money with dumb acts of vandalism in the public schools."

Why? Because "Dennis Baltimore Jr. was caught vandalizing school property at Long Beach's Wilson Classical High School," reports the Daily Breeze. His sentence was handed down by his father, who was on the receiving end of the phone call Monday morning informing him that his son had been busted for tagging school property with a made-up gang name--a crime that came with an $875 price tag. Having seen a recent news story about a parent in another state making their kid wear a sign, Baltimore Sr. went right for the posterboard and markers.

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Once out and about, the 10th grader "cringed from the attention his punishment drew as onlookers laughed, pointed and took pictures while reading the sign," all of which was Baltimore Sr's intention. Although the punishment is atypical and other parents might disagree with his methods, he hopes it will inspire his son to think more consciously about his decisions in life, and to take responsibility for his actions while accepting the consequences for them.

Onlookers who spoke to the Daily Breeze tended to agree with the punishment fitting the crime, and saw that the young offender was embarrassed and uncomfortable--exactly as his dad intended. So how did it feel? Baltimore Jr. told the Breeze:

"I'm really mad, confused and I feel dumb at the same time, but I understand what my dad is saying," he said. "I know he wants me to learn how to be a man and step up to my mistakes and learn by being punished. I did it, but I'm going to do better now. It's not worth it. I'm done."

In addition to his father's punishment, Baltimore Jr was suspended for four days, and will spend part of his upcoming holiday break doing service on the school campus--including painting over graffiti.AP Photo/ Scott Smeltzer/Press-Telegram