Report: Kids as young as grade school being sent to juvenile detention for skipping class

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Grays Harbor County Superior Court

GRAYS HARBOR COUNTY — Juvenile courts in Washington are putting minors behind bars for skipping school, reports, leading the nation in juvenile detention rates for non-criminal offenses.

Skipping school in itself is not a crime in Washington state, according to the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s Office. But kids remanded to Truancy court, a special court for students who have seven unexcused absences in a month or 10 in a year, are sometimes being sent to juvenile detention.

KUOW reports that once a student has reported to Truancy court, any unexcused absences following the violation can be considered contempt. And contempt can lead to detention.

Most students are remanded to juvenile detention for one or two days following the contempt of court charge, KUOW reports. Usually the students sent to juvenile detention for skipping school come from high schools. But sometimes, kids from elementary school are locked up, KUOW reports.

Super Court Judge David Edwards is part of a Grays Harbor County court system that leads the state in detaining children for truancy. He told KUOW detention was an “important tool” for making kids realize they are doing themselves harm in skipping. Recently, Edwards sentenced two brothers to juvenile detention. When one of the brothers started to cry — along with their mother who was in the court at the hearing — Edwards spoke up.

“Don’t cry,” Edwards told the teens, KUOW reports. “There’s nothing to cry about.”

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  • alawyer

    Nothing to cry about? Perhaps the judge would like his child handcuffed, shackled, strip-searched and exposed to children with serious emotional problems. Youth jail is just that – jail. Certainly a child should never be sent there when there is an alternative and there is always an alternative to this sort of thing. Importantly, missing school is usually a symptom of something else, such as child abuse, bullying, an undiagnosed emotional or physical issue or a learning disability. What’s being done here isn’t just cruel, backward, and mean-spirited and likely victimizes only children from the wrong side of the tracks, but it can lead to very serious consequences. Once you have exposed a non-violent child with minor issues to older youths with serious issues, the children may end up becoming mired in the system and acts of delinquency, or they may suffer serious abuse in the youth prison system.

    • Justin Case

      You would not believe the was Pacific County courts do to kids. My son has to go for 10 days for DEFENDING himself against the school bully. I know of 2 other kids that were brought in on truancy, and the school reported them for literally being late for school by 3 minutes. The girl, a six grader, with learning disabilities,was sent for 10 days. That 2 day thing is BS. They get min. a week.

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