Parachute Kids

***READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED***

Posts about real school tragedy, crime and/or events can be upsetting.

BLOG POST #69: This week, I’m sharing research on a specific criminal case involving several high school students.

What is a parachute kid? High school age children, 14-19 years old, sent unaccompanied to the United States from other countries to attend school.

Public school has government restrictions on foreign student enrollment, so parachute kids mostly attend private schools. Many parachute kids are from China looking for a Western education. California has a large population of parachute kids.

It was reported, nearly one million international students enrolled in US schools in 2014-2015; approximately 31% were from China. In one rural community in Southern California, the number of parachute kids enrolled in high school went from 40 to more than 300 in a three-year span.

Parachute kids are big business, over 25 billion dollars big. It costs the student’s family, primarily middle-class, about $50,000 per year. They consider it an investment. The students live in boarding homes or homestay with an American family which could cost $1,500 per month for room and board.

“You basically have kids who are managing themselves and have no one to answer to,” said a police sergeant involved in the case.

The main problem is the children have no supervision. The majority of international students attending school in the US do so without incident. Lack of supervision was a contributing factor to what ended in a prison sentence for four Chinese parachute kids. Would the children discussed in this post have been troublemakers had they stayed in China with parental supervision? We’ll never know.

In court, the Superior Court Judge said, it reminded him of “Lord of the Flies,” William Golding’s 1954 novel about boys stranded on a deserted island without grownups.

Four high school age Chinese parachute kids forced another to clean the floor of an ice cream parlor with her hands. And then the victim was taken to a park and forced to undress. The victim was slapped, kicked, and burned with cigarettes. The victim’s hair was cut off and she was forced to eat her hair.

The criminal with the longest sentence, the alleged ringleader, pleaded guilty to kidnapping, inflicting great bodily injury, and assault. The charge of torture which carries a life prison sentence was dropped. She was sentenced to 13-years in prison.

Criminal #2 pleaded guilty to kidnapping, inflicting great bodily injury, and assault. She was sentenced to 10-years in prison.

Criminal #3 pleaded guilty to kidnapping and assault. He was sentenced to 6-years in prison.

Criminal #4 pleaded guilty to assault. She was sentenced to 3-years in prison.

What are your thoughts about this case? Join the conversation on the website. We talk about the sensitive subject of crimes occurring at or connected to schools. Your relevant comments are always welcome on the Research Blog.

Do you know of a school crime you’d like to share? Email me so we can discuss the details.

Thanks for reading!

-Robin

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