In the following article, it sounds as if the townspeople have not differentiated between truancy and a daytime curfew. The effectiveness of homeschooling is also touched on, although whether or not children learn well at home, as people generally assume they do at school, has nothing to do with the suspected juvenile crime concerning the citizens.
Home schooled children aren’t truants, home schooler says, 28 May 2008, Picayune Item, Picayune, Mississippi
Rigney addressed the school board for the Picayune Municipal Separate School District at its noon meeting Tuesday because of concerns raised at an earlier meeting by the Pearl River County Neighborhood Watch about truancy and whether all children who are supposed to be being home schooled actually are being home schooled.
There is a difference between detaining truants, that is children who are enrolled in a school and who are playing hooky, and a daytime curfew that forbids people under a certain age to be in public during the hours between, say, eight in the morning and three in the afternoon. One method targets specific children, the other targets all children.
However, Pearl River County Sheriff’s Dept. Chief Deputy Frank Vaccarella said later in the meeting that the sheriff’s department would like to help enforce truancy laws but now have to back off when they stop a child and the child says that it is home schooled.
Is it difficult to tell a truant from a homeschooled child? Of course. As yet, I haven’t read about any state that requires either group to sport an identifying symbol, temporary or permanent, so that onlookers can determine the child’s status at a glance. Even in our identity-badge-aware society, we are not all under house arrest and allowed to be out only with permission.
Another question I see is, what are the children doing when they are questioned? Are they committing crimes? Are they walking somewhere? Are they playing in their yards? What is it that catches the officer’s eye? Just their presence, or their activities?
- If the children are committing crimes, then whether they are homeschoolers on a flexible schedule, truant public school students, errant private school students, or visitors from Timbuktu, lock those kiddies up. Crime is crime. Don’t put up with it.
- If the kids are meandering along, do they have Fifth Amendment rights? I don’t mean to get between the police and wrong-doers, I’m just curious. When they are talking to the police, do children have Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination, or do they say, “Yes, officer, I’m playing hooky.” This is a dicey area because I think most of us want kids to answer police officers truthfully. To complicate matters, are we talking about Officer Friendly talking to Timmy who is avoiding ‘that big kid’ at school, or is this Officer Krupke grilling the Jets?
If the school attendance reasons are, indeed, paramount, what prevents the school from maintaining a daily list of the names of absent students? Can the police not be given a specific truancy phone number to call to determine if Hudson Higgenbotham III is on the list? If Hudson is, then the officers take Hudson back to school and the principal calls Hudson’s parents. If he isn’t, then Hudson is not a truant. Hudson may be homeschooled, or he may be visiting relatives for the funeral of Uncle Hudson Higgenbotham, Sr. and was so overcome by the demise of his namesake that he had to take a walk to calm down.
I don’t mean to mock police officers while they do their jobs. I just think that the relationship of kids in our society to schools, and to authority, is not clear. Maybe to some people the changing status of children is still ‘future shock.’ I’ll admit that the recent FLDS mess in Texas comes to mind, where young women who produced driving licenses to prove their ages but were taken into custody because they looked young.
Police judge criminal profiles based on who writers them, study finds, Ohio State University
“A profile is not intended to identify a specific person. A profile is only one of many tools in an investigator’s arsenal, and it is not my business to tell investigators what tools they should use.” But the results do suggest that anecdotal accounts of the accuracy of a profile are not a good basis for arguing that profiling is actually useful, [Andrew Hayes] said.
If “students” are truant, find out who the “students” are. Don’t presume that, like the FLDS women assumed to be children, that all children are “students.”