by Peter Stern
The Washington Post has an article, “In Texas schools, a criminal response to misbehavior” in which it notes that throughout the U.S. many public schools are using the court system to punish and discipline students who misbehave instead of having them visit the Principal’s Office or meet with Guidance Counselors for disciplinary actions:
Courts and jail time should be a last resort for children, after everything else has been tried.
I say this for many reasons. There is no reason for a young child to get into the criminal system unless it really warrants it.
Another primary reason NOT to get the system involved is because the courts are already backlogged with criminal activities and tight schedules. There is no need to further overburden judges and the courts and it also increases the costs to taxpayers during these difficult economic times.
I was a Director and initially a teacher re: inner city youth public educational programs. What we did was to set up a student court, where students tried other students and the process was very successful and it taught students about the judicial system, courts, the process and helped them all stay on-track with their lives. In many cases the student judges and juries were more strict in their review and punishment than the court system may have been.
It would be a good idea if schools set up such a process instead of getting the judicial system involved and forcing young children into the criminal arena. It also would be more cost-effective for taxpayers.
In Texas, the specter of harsh discipline has been especially clear. Here, police issue tickets: Class C misdemeanor citations for offensive language, class disruption, schoolyard fights. Thousands of students land in court, with fines of up to $500. Students with outstanding tickets may be arrested after age 17.