2015 Summit: Restorative Justice News Opinions

Status offenses offer both good, bad outcomes for teens under 18

By Jace Riley ’16
THE ROUNDUP

Status offenses are a set of laws based on minors’ status of being a minor and most go away upon turning 18.

Some examples are that minors can’t runaway from their house, can’t ditch school or be out past curfew.

While I understand why these laws exist and most are reasonable, I can see some cases where they can be harmful.

If a minor runs away from an abusive household and goes to his grandparents, he is still breaking the law and actually puts his grandparents under the offense of harboring a minor without consent.

If the parent calls the police saying that their son went there without consent, the police have to take him back to his parents.

While this may be a rare circumstance, I can’t see why that should be illegal. The kid was trying to be safe.

Another status offense is being out past curfew. For 15-year-olds and under they can’t be out and unsupervised between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Between 16 and 18 its between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m.

Unlike a runaway this rule makes more sense to me.

The rule is there to protect minors.

Plus it allows two exceptions. One being when they are supervised they can be out during the hours, the other being if you are leaving an event and are on your way back.

So a 16-year-old driving home from an overtime football game on Friday night is ok. Fifteen-year-olds hanging out in a park at 11:30 p.m. is against the curfew law.

This is all very understandable and fair in my opinion. I understand why they would enforce this.

The other one I understand is for ditching school.

If a minor is in school for most of the day, they are less likely to get into trouble.

These are just some of the few status offenses. I believe they are all in good heart and want minors to be safe, but I feel like there should be more exceptions.

There might be a reason why the minor ran away and that could be that it’s more dangerous to be at home than to runaway.

Status offenses need to have more exceptions to their own guidelines to promote safety rather than confine minors.