Throwing Kids in Jail for Skipping School Isn't Helping Anyone

Kid in JailSchools all over the country are now seeking restitution from students who are missing too much school. The punishment? Students and their parents are either being fined or forced to spend time in jail, resulting in, you guessed it, even more school being missed.

Oh the irony.


Sure, there should be consequences for too many absences. But children who miss school for legitimate reasons, like chronic illnesses, appointments, etc., should not be punished. Truancy rules should keep those who would try to outsmart the system (habitual ditchers or parents who don’t enforce the rules) to stay on the straight and narrow. By making the parents aware that there are consequences for not parenting their children, the school is actually acting as an advocate for the child.

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And what about those parents who do everything right, and somewhere between leaving the house and the front door of the school, the kid makes a detour? They shouldn't be jailed for their deviant child. It’s not right to punish a parent because her child sneaks out of school. The wrong person is being punished.

Then there are the students who have chronic illnesses or extenuating circumstances, those need to be taken into consideration. If a child is so anxiety stricken that they can’t leave the house and they need to see a therapist once a week, how is it helpful to fine the student or the parents for trying to help their child? What if the child is ill with cancer or some other ongoing disease that they are too weak to attend school? In these cases, the nature of the absence needs to be taken into account.

No matter how you look at it, fining students and their parents and jail time for absences seems extreme and, in most cases, not beneficial to anyone involved. I thought the purpose of these rules was to help students do better in school by curtailing absences, but really, I think it is too flawed to benefit anyone.

Do you think this truancy system is going to help students miss less school and increase test scores? Or are we going to end up wrongfully punishing parents and students alike?

Image via Schmich/Flickr

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