Incarceration links to school absences - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Incarceration links to school absences

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Dougherty County students return to school one week from today, and county leaders are stressing how important it is for those students to show up to class every day.

A recent survey shows students who skip often have other problems and are more likely to end up in jail.

In 2010, County commissioner Muarlean Edwards spear headed a survey of 100 inmates at the Dougherty County Jail.

I spoke with Project S.H.I.E.L.D.'s CEO Prince Edwards, who tells me truancy is the kindergarten of crime.

Skipping school might seem harmless, but Prince Edward says there is a high correlation between truancy and incarceration.

He spoke to Dougherty County Commissioners today about the results of a survey of 100 inmates to see how truancy impacted their life.

"50% of inmates did not have a GED," says Prince Edwards, Project S.H.I.E.L.D. CEO.

He says parents are dealing with a different type of child these days.

"Back when I was in school, we would talk about skipping school and we were looking at going fishing or you know, just going to hang out at a buddy's house. Now when children are skipping school, we are selling that they are using illegal drugs, which the study actually shows 65% of the inmates, when they were children in school used illegal drugs," says Edwards.

If a child is to be successful in school, it is important that they be in school everyday.

"Young people need structure and young people need order and if they do not have that, they will find ways to entertain themselves," says R. D. Harter, Dougherty County School System Public Information Director.

The study also showed, of the 100 inmates surveyed, 65% conceived children while truant from school.

192 children were conceived by those 100 inmates.

He says it is ultimately the parents responsibility to make sure their kids go to class.

"In the state of Georgia, a child that misses more than fifteen days is considered truant and their parents are responsible," says Harter.

And Edwards agrees, saying it takes an entire village to raise a child.

"In the end, we have to realize that our efforts or the efforts that we put forth, could be the difference in a child going to jail and a child going to college," says Edwards.

And if you do have issues with keeping your child in school, he says do not be afraid to ask for help.

Edwards is hoping for children to have more self discipline and have every child in Dougherty County be successful students.

Since 2008, Project S.H.I.E.L.D. has operated truancy programs at Turner Elementary School to help keep kids in school.

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