With the ever-increasing number of school shootings that take place in Pennsylvania and throughout the U.S. every year, it is no wonder that students, parents and school staff are looking for ways to increase safety and security on high school campuses. But as police officer patrol school playgrounds, lunchrooms and hallways, issuing criminal citations for seemingly-minor juvenile offenses such as tardiness and talking in class, many wonder whether we have gone too far in the other direction.
According to a recent BBC article, there are now police officers patrolling the grounds of hundreds of schools across the country and issuing citations to students. Most students cited at school are charged with low-level misdemeanor charges, offenses that generally do not carry jail time. But even if the charge is minor, any arrest can have a life-long effect on students. For some, that charge is the start of a years-long struggle to get themselves out of the criminal justice system.
In the article, the author discusses the growing number of teenagers who have been charged with Class C misdemeanors in Texas. Most of these charges stem from relatively minor offenses, such as truancy and tardiness, and in-class discipline issues such as talking out of turn, using profanity and writing on a desk.
About 300,000 Texas teenagers are charged with Class C misdemeanors every year, which carry various sentences and monetary fines of up to $500.
In 2007, one Texas state lawmaker attempted to stem the flow of Class C misdemeanor charges against students, successfully proposing an amendment to the law that would remove "school uniform infraction" from the list of punishable offenses. Since then, however, no other changes to the law have been proposed.
Source: BBC, "Misbehaving pupils ending up in court," Nina Robinson, April 10, 2012
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