Truancy law

Monday, August 23, 2004

Springfield News-Leader

Missouri's compulsory school attendance law says the parents or legal guardians of children between 7 and 16 years old "shall cause the child to attend regularly" a public, private or home school. Failure to do so can result in criminal charges.

The law is facing a challenge from Brenda Self on the grounds it is unconstitutionally vague.

Self's 15-year-old daughter missed 40 days of class. The mother was sentenced to 15 days in the Pemiscot County Jail, suspended pending completion of two years of unsupervised probation. The argument could be made she got off lightly. ...

The issue is really one of child abuse.

It's not the same as physically or verbally harming a child, but parents not making sure that their son or daughter gets an education will seriously handicap them for life.

In the 21st-century economy, good jobs will be hard to come by without some sort of college degree, much less a high school diploma.

If the law is found to be vague, legislators should fix it and make it stronger.

This challenge to the law is particularly confusing considering many parents strive to make sure their children have a chance at a better life than they did. By contrast, the challenge to the law strikes us as awfully selfish.

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