School violence…New directives, stricter laws

By Staff
NOT GETTING AWAY WITH IT Parents of children who exhibit violent behavior at school or who bring weapons to school, make bomb threats or violate other laws can be held just as accountable as their children. Photo illustration by Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
April 16, 2001
A new directive by Attorney General Mike Moore will compel school systems to enforce stricter statutes when dealing with students who violate the law.
Dr. Sam Thompson, director of the Meridian Public Schools Safety Center, said certain crimes, such as bomb threats, will now be punishable by a stricter statute.
In the past, school officials prosecuted students who made bomb threats with the misdemeanor "disturbance of a public place."
Thompson said two bomb threats were made at city schools last week.
The same rule applies to other types of crimes, such as fighting and bringing weapons to school, he said.
Parents will be held accountable for their children's actions as well, he said, even when the parent is unaware of certain behavior, like a child bringing a knife or other weapon to school.
Thompson said district officials will still handle incidents on a case by case basis. For example, a 6-year-old who brings a pocket knife to school for show and tell will not receive the same disciplinary action as an eighth-grader who brings a box cutter to school with the intention of fighting.
Thompson said the Latin phrase "in loco corpus parentus," still applies to Meridian's school children. The phrase literally means when a child arrives at school, the principal assumes the parental role.
Residents who need more information, or who would like a copy of "20 red flags," a guide to determine if their children are at risk of violent behavior, should call the Safety Center at 484-4934.
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at mtodd@themeridianstar.com.

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