Letters to the Editor

Truancy issue more complicated than prosecutor’s view | Letter

We can only hope that King County Prosecutor Daniel Satterberg was being disingenuous in his opinion article in the Dec. 13 issue of the Reporter. I would hate to think that he actually believes that because those who don’t finish high school are more likely to commit crime that there is a cause and effect relationship between the two.

A far likelier explanation is that those with an underlying tangle of social and biological pathologies are both less likely to finish high school and more likely to commit crime. Consider, for example, the plight of a student who suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome. The brain damage suffered by this person will make it more difficult to finish high school and will also, by reducing self control, predispose him to commit crime. Whatever the benefits of finishing high school, this achievement cannot undo the effects of that damage.

Our state policy regarding truancy should not be influenced by a horribly flawed interpretation of statistics. The costs and benefits of laws in general, including the “Becca law,” should be informed by a realistic interpretation of the available statistics.

If statistics show that men who wear a necktie to work are less likely to commit crime, that does not mean that mandating that all men wear a necktie to work would reduce the crime rate.

Timothy Siegel, Bellevue



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