Parents Now Thrown in Jail When Kid Misses School


Oh, Florida. Land of so much nuttiness. The latest? Florida's Palm Beach County has decided to jail parents -- up to two months! -- if their kids, ages 16 and younger, miss too much school. How much is too much? Fifteen or more unexcused absences in three months. In fact, Florida isn't the only state with a county going after parents so strongly in truancy cases. Counties in Maryland, Alabama, Texas, North Carolina, California, and Pennsylvania are also sending parents to jail or levying huge fines against them if their kids miss too much school.

Is throwing parents in jail because they're kids cut school cool?

I get why the court system might want to take a strong hand with parents in the case of younger kids. We really all should be able to find a way to get our 6-, 7-, and 8-year-olds to school. But in the case of older kids, I have to wonder if going after the parents so strongly is the right move. (Has it proven effective? I'd be curious to know ...)

Kids who are 15 and 16 inarguably have minds of their own, and make their own decisions, good and bad. Parents can drop them off at the door to their school and watch them walk in the door -- but they cannot know what their kids do after that. Do they walk right back out the door and skip school?

Jailing parents in such cases (and perhaps the courts do take such things into consideration; in Florida, parental prison time is reportedly a last resort) seems extreme and maybe even counterproductive. If the parent is in jail, how will she then help get her kid to school -- or help the kid address problems that may have resulted in cutting school? Couldn't jail time make homes with truant children all the more unstable? And aren't our jails crowded enough as it is?

What's more, what are we teaching kids about taking responsibility for their own actions, and their own lives, if we're making parents pay for their misdeeds? Once kids reach their teenage years, it seems to me, it's time for them to take more responsibility for their own decisions, not less.

What do you think of truancy laws that jail parents if their kids miss too much school?


Image via Dennis Vu Photography for Unleashed Media/Flickr

school, behavior


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nicki... nicki.hemingway

I agree with the author, I can not see how jail time for parents of teens helping in these cases.  I think that after the age of 12 or 13 the child should be held accountable.

Littl... LittleFrogsMA

15 unexcused absences in a 3 month period is a LOT of school to miss.   Given that there are typically 20 school days in a month that is 15 days out of 60.  One out of four.   


Mind you, only unexcused absences count so being sick, having to attend a funeral, doctor's appointments would not be part of that 15.

Littl... LittleFrogsMA

Also note that schools typically contact parents if a child is absent and they haven't heard from the parent.  If the parent isn't acting or at least asking for assistance, then yes, the state needs to step in.   

Susie19 Susie19

I understand that some parents need to take more responsibility when their child misses too much school, but for most parents it is actually an uncontrolable situation.  For example, my mom was having these same issue with my brother, who just wouldn't get his ass up in the morning for school.  She tried everything from calling his teachers and school counselors to even trying to call the police to see if anyone could do something because she couldn't do much more.  Instead she was told that if he kept missing school she was going to be fined up to $500 (we live in CA).  So now that I'm hearing that parents get arrested for their kids being lazy and selfish it really upsets me and I don't think this is fair at all.  In all reality, they should take the kids for a couple nights in Juvenile hall to see if that won't make their asses get up bright and early for school.  SMH. 

tsk tsk

Littl... LittleFrogsMA



I think any parent who has asked for assistance from the school and the state in their child's truency should not be going to jail; if the school and truency officers aren't able to change the situation, the courts should order the child to school or juvenile hall.   But there ARE kids whose parents KEEP them home to help with younger kids, to keep them company, to watch tv, etc.  I think those are the parents this law is targeting.

PonyC... PonyChaser

We live in a society where kids are constantly being let off the hook. They are given second, third, fourth, etc. chances. We've elminated score-keeping in games so they "don't have to lose". We give trophies to everyone just for participating. MVP status has been removed from many sports leagues because "everybody can't be MVP".  We use invented spelling. We talk to bullies instead of punishing them. My goodness, we put KNEEPADS and helmets on them when they're learning to crawl and walk!

We judge mothers if they dare discipline their children in our view. We judge them if little Sally doesn't show up in a cute little dress, if Johnny's jeans are dirty, or if their hair is messy. We force parents to drive their children to school and pick them up, because it's "not safe" for them to walk or ride a bike. We encourage parents - through fear tactics - to never let their chidren out of their sight. Ever. Ten year old children must be accompanied by an adult in the bathroom, in case "Chester the Molester" is lurking.

So why are we shocked when parents are being held accountable for their older teens? These kids have been coddled from day one!! And now, suddenly, they're supposed to be all grown up, self-aware, and personally responsible?? Bull.

nonmember avatar Liz

I think it's a little sensational to assume cops will just be arresting any parent whose kid skips school. Small children with parents who don't bother sending their kids to school deserve to have someone stand up for them and their education.

mama2... mama2allblue

Ridiculous! I am currently fighting the school my son (14 yrs old) attends because the person responsible for logging an absence as "excused" or "unexcused" marked my son as "unexcused" for 15 PERIODS of school when he provided notes and excuses from the doctor or dentist. By this standard, I guess I could be thrown in jail for sloppy book-keeping. Thankfully I do keep a copy of all correspondence between the school and myself due to a previous "unexcused" mark when a note was sent but what if I didn't? I would have to prove to the COURT I had written notes and provided valid excuses from professionals. As I said in my opening, RIDICULOUS!

Christina Smith-Maillioux

That's so silly. I mean seriously there is so much more that the goverment could be putting that money towards. The time to hunt down the parents, book them, get them a cell, food, etc. Seriously? Why not put that money into the actual school systems? Is it honesly going to help the kids to see their parents taken away for such a stupid thing? Who will take care of them then?

Ugh it's just so insane it's hard to give a rational arguement against it because there is no rational reason behind it.

nonmember avatar Kayla

my friend spent all of high school manipulating her mother to let her stay home at least once a week. all she had to do was cough and act sick and cry if her mother said no and then she'd call her in. with older kids, often parents are enablers who allow their children to walk all over them and use them.

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