Police fines might seem to be a ploy by local governments to make easy money from citizens, but when it is employed with the intent to curb school truancy, it is a good strategy.
The Los Angeles School Police Department recently announced it will follow LAPD’s lead and not ticket students enrolled in Los Angeles Unified School District schools within a designated area in the first 90 minutes of the school day. To stop ticketing as a deterrent for skipping class is a bad idea as it is a useful way to prevent truancy.
Youth advocates and opponents of the original ticketing policy argued the threat of a ticket increases truancy because it discourages students from being on time or from going to school at all. Critics, however, fail to consider the usefulness of ticketing as financial incentive to deter negative behavior and encourage good behavior. When combined with community-level initiatives, such as USC’s Good Neighbors Campaign, truancy could be eradicated.
People are less likely to do things that will cost them money. Common sense should tell children that, if their families could be charged money based on their poor behavior, they should avoid those behaviors.
Using money and threatening to take away something important to many families, ticketing gets the family involved and encourages parents to make sure their children get to school on time, if for no other reason than for avoiding a $250 charge.
That is not to say the original ticketing policy was flawless. The current fine is excessive, so it would be a good idea to decrease the fine to a level more feasible for lower-income families that would still motivate them to attend school.
USC’s Good Neighbors Campaign can use law enforcement’s attendance policy as a springboard for supplementing classroom education with the structured, positive after-school activities proven to be beneficial for children. These types of extracurricular activities can incentivize students to attend school so they can reap the benefits of fun programs offered after the school day is complete.
The ticketing measure can keep vulnerable students away from harmful behavior that often comes with truancy and a lack of education, such as violence and drug abuse.
Not only does truancy cost students in the short term, but it can have long-term societal effects as well. Success often starts at the educational level, and emphasizing the importance of education serves as an important reminder.
Even if children are too young to understand the far-reaching implications of an education, it is the responsibility of adults to ensure children have guidance in their education. By ignoring the problem at the law enforcement level, society ignores children and puts them in jeopardy of undervaluing education at a young age. This is something neither these children nor Los Angeles can afford.
Sarah Cueva is a sophomore majoring in political science. Her point runs Fridays.