The “Becca Bill” 20 Years Later: How Washington’s Truancy Laws Negatively Impact Children
Published Dec 15, 2015, Vera Institute of Justice
The Becca laws have made Washington State the country’s foremost jailer of children for “status offenses” like skipping school. It allows parents to use legal petitions called ARY (At Risk Youth) to obtain court orders that require children to participate in social services, attend school, and obey guardians. However, poverty—not insufficient parental authority—is the primary cause of truancy. The law also makes things much harder for children who are already laboring under social stigma and racism. As momentum builds nationwide toward creating less punitive juvenile justice systems, it is time to examine our truancy laws.