Feature

Only in America: Cops giving tickets to 6-year-olds

Hundreds of Texas students who disrupt class, use profanity, and otherwise commit "misdemeanors" are being sent to court instead of the principal's office

The story: As police have increased their presence in Texas schools, more and more students — including elementary-school kids — are being slapped with court dates instead of detention, a recent study discovered. According to Texas Appleseed, a nonprofit group, more than 1,000 Class C misdemeanor tickets were given out in Texas's 10 biggest school districts over a six-year-period for minor offenses such as leaving class early or using profanity in school. (Watch a dramatization of the controversy.) The organization's report, titled "Texas' School-to-Prison Pipeline," also noted that such tickets can cost families up to $500, that blacks and Hispanics are ticketed more often than whites, and that "where a child attends school — not the severity of the allegation — was the best indicator of whether the child would be ticketed instead of sent to the principal's office," according to the Associated Press. Texas Appleseed recommends that the state ban the practice of ticketing students younger than 14.The reaction: "We certainly agree that students need to be disciplined for bad behavior,'" says Deborah Fowler, deputy director of Texas Appleseed, as quoted by ABC News. But "we question if they should come in direct contact" with the penal system. Many locals agree: "I don't think it's correct to give them a ticket at 6 years old," says a parent, Abby Amadore, as quoted by The Daily Mail. But the Dallas school district insists that safety should be the priority, and says that "the vast majority of our students are not disruptive. Those who do receive tickets are hopefully learning that their actions have consequences."

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