Metro-East prosecutor targets parents to decrease classroom truancy

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by Lauren Trager / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on May 15, 2013 at 10:27 PM

Updated Thursday, May 16 at 8:27 AM

 (KMOV) -- A Metro East prosecutor is concerned with kids missing school and he is now going after the parents.

For the first time in St. Clair County, five parents were slapped with charges after their kids missed too much school.

There’s no doubt it’s a huge problem. In Cahokia 20 percent of students are frequently out of class: 50 percent in East St. Louis.

“If they are not in school, we know they are headed down a very dangerous path,” said Brendan Kelly, St. Clair County State’s Attorney.

Kelly told News 4 there’s a direct link between kids staying in school and violent crimes.

“Smoking, drinking,” said Cierra Moore, a high school student.

Students said they know their classmates are up to no good if they aren’t in their seats.

“How big of a problem you think it is?” asked Reporter Lauren Trager. “It’s a huge problem, a huge concern around here,” Moore said.

And it’s getting worse.

But Kelly says he’s concerned, not just with the kids, but with the parents who let them to roam free.

“When we’ve run out of other options, the law gives us this option,” Kelly said.

Kelly said they’ve begun a tough approach that’s proven to work in other areas: threaten parents with fines or even jail time if they chronically allow their kids to skip school, especially if they’re younger.

“It’s the parent which is the issue,” Kelly said.

But some parents we talked to were a bit skeptical.

“Why don’t you think it would work? I don’t think it will work because when they become teenagers, they have their own mind. “

Kelly says he knows parenting isn’t easy. They’ll take each case separately, but he says something must be done to get kids off the streets and out of jail.

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