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The State Treats Children as Criminals


Last night the city of Concord, California approved a daytime curfew ordinance which allows the city to levy fines against children who are found in public during school hours. In particular, a child caught for the first time outside of school during the day without a valid excuse will be given a warning citation. The next incident will result in a fine of up to $100, the third incident up to a $200 fine, and up to a $500 fine for each subsequent incident. While some news outlets have made this law out to be a way to keep kids in school for educational benefit, the reality is that Concord sees children as potential criminals, and they want children treated as criminals during the day by way of public school holding cells.

An unfortunate consequence of compulsory schooling over the past couple of generations is that the populace has been conditioned into believing that children are unintelligent, irresponsible and potentially dangerous beings who should never be seen in public during the day (except for the unbearable periods of rampant crime known as summers and weekends). Councilman Tim Grayson proposed the daytime curfew when he “saw a large group of kids hanging out at Todos Santos Plaza when they should have been in school.” It is not unreasonable to believe that his problem with those “kids hanging out” might have less to do with their missing valuable class time than it may with a belief that kids have a certain place in society, and that place is out of sight during school hours. While we can’t ascribe with certainty any particular beliefs to Grayson, we can to Mayor Laura Hoffmeister. She said that the city has a “problem with kids cutting class and causing mayhem in her city.” She clearly sees children as potential criminals, not as individuals of worth who are able to positively contribute to society.

Others apparently agree. According to the proposal submitted to the mayor and city council, daytime curfew ordinances are designed to “prevent daytime crime, increase community and youth safety, and deter truancy”. While that language may give some hope that their concerns are not focused only on the assumed criminality of children, the Purpose and Intent section of the proposal makes very clear that their concern is wholly about the assumed criminality of children. This assumption is not new. A similar ordinance was proposed a decade ago, and a 2007 report presented by the Concord Police Department led to the local school district’s decision to essentially transform their schools into prisons by closing campuses during school hours and “installing physical barriers (gates) to deter truancy.”

Preemptively viewing and treating children as criminals is in and of itself inherently criminal, however it is standard operating procedure for the state. Politicians, principals, teachers and policemen want children to be seen and not heard, and seen only in approved places at approved times. The spillover effect of several generations of compulsory schooling and heavy handed government is that now many adults throughout the community also view independent children with disdain. As John Taylor Gatto has alluded to, taking children out of the community and throwing them in public school gulags during the day deprives children of the ability to learn how to function responsibly as an adult within society, and to contribute to society. When we treat children as criminals we strip away their self-confidence and their dignity, we make it known that we assume they lack integrity, and in doing so we lay the foundation for a life unfulfilled. Individually, we may not have the power to stop the state from criminalizing youth*, but we have the power to shield our children from some of the degrading treatment of the state – all we have to do is pull our children from the public schools, and bring them back into the home.


* Of the 14 members of the public who shared their thoughts at the city council meeting, not one of them supported the curfew, yet it passed unanimously, 4-0.


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4 Responses to " The State Treats Children as Criminals "

  1. Your thesis is correct. There are many parallels between school and prison. Gatto’s books were the first writings that allowed me to see the full depth of the government schooling problem. After several years of private grumbling, I finally started a blog on that topic. I’m just trying to be another voice in the education freedom wilderness.

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