On Friday three local parents were judged and found wanting: They were guilty of chronically allowing their children to miss school. The judge gave them court supervision for a year, but about six weeks into the school year they will be back in court so the judge can see how they are doing.
We're sure Antonia Ratliff, Sabrina Brown and Sabri Rachel Davis have life challenges. We're sure their kids are not making their jobs easier. But we're also sure that whatever the moms' and children's situations, that chronically missing school will make it far worse.
St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly said it well: "This is not about giving people a hard time, this is about giving a child a better chance at a future life that is not behind bars."
Criminologists for decades have pointed to truancy as the starting point for a tough life that can lead to juvenile delinquency, drugs, unemployment, marital problems and prison. You really don't need all the studies to understand that a person who fails to follow society's most basic rule -- go to school -- will have trouble following the rest of the rules.
The studies also show that huge chunks of daytime crime are linked to truant kids. Again, a no-brainer: "Idle hands are the devil's workshop."
So the three moms will be watched for a year. If they fail to get their kids to school consistently, they will wind up with criminal records and may face more penalties.
Actions have consequences, but failing to act -- especially when it is your own child -- is criminal.