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August 13, 2014

Waking up truants' parents

Mother's Day came early in St. Clair County as prosecutors offered an unwanted but needed gift to the errant children of errant moms: misdemeanor charges.

Eleven women were charged for allowing their children to be chronic truants. Prosecutors said that brings the total to 20 this year, and that getting the students into school is key to preventing a lifetime of unemployment, dysfunction and crime.

We thought it curious that so many were from the Marissa and Dupo areas -- eight of the 11. Neither district is big enough to be so well represented.

And we found it sad that all the defendants are women. We suspect they lead lives made difficult by unreliable or absent fathers of their children: too bad there is no way to criminalize being a crummy dad.

Ticketing parents for curfew violations and charging them for failing to get their kids to school may seem harsh, but these are methods of last resort needed to avoid decades of heartache and cost -- about $10,000 a year to educate vs. $40,000 a year to incarcerate. For children being failed on the most basic levels by their parents, at least there are school administrators and local law enforcement worried about their futures.

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