Today’s headlines about punishing school kids reads more like The Onion than reality. But it’s actually not even remotely funny, the majority of our nation’s kids are being subjected to the American police state every day.
West Virginia is a microcosm of the American police state, one in three children was considered truant in the state by 2012, the latest year for which statistics were available, while 40 percent of juvenile court referrals — about 2,750 children — were for truancy.
The ACLU dubbed its campaign “5 Days to Life,” underscoring how youngsters’ involvement in the juvenile justice system for five unexcused absences can have impacts extending into adulthood. Among them: “collateral” consequences in seeking employment, housing or entering the military, for example, and increased likelihood of becoming involved with the criminal justice system as an adult.
“We wanted to make clear to legislators that sending a kid to the court system for truancy could have lifetime consequences, and they should look long and hard at whether shuffling kids to the justice system is the best approach,” said Jennifer Meinig, executive director of the ACLU of West Virginia. “Once you touch the system, it’s like quicksand. It forever changes a youth’s life.”