Lawmakers in Prince George’s County, MD, are desperately trying to address the issue of rampant truancy among the county’s youth. And though it is a very serious problem for the region, Prince George’s officials are considering some disproportionately extreme tactics to address it. If the current legislation being considered is signed into law, then the worst student offenders could be forced to wear electronic monitoring devices, such as ankle bracelets, so their whereabouts can be tracked. But, as it often goes, this strategy only serves as a bandage for the wound, when we should all be more focused on preventing the injury in the first place.
The root causes of truancy can involve a number of different factors, including fear of attending school, family problems, and economic problems. We need more than satellite monitoring devices to truly address this issue. Student offenders should be invited to the table when policymakers are discussing the issue and possible solutions. The school system should involve parents, their communities, social workers, and nonprofit organizations to come to a more rational conclusion than to require students to submit to Orwellian practices.
Luckily, the bill was put on hold until the conclusions of a truancy study are released in May. Perhaps that will give people enough time to come to their senses, and realize that we should be addressing the root of the truancy problem, rather than criminalizing our nation’s youth.