German Court Sends Teen to Jail for Skipping School | News and current affairs from Germany and around the world | DW | 08.02.2007
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German Court Sends Teen to Jail for Skipping School

A 16-year-old German girl has been sentenced to two weeks in prison for repeatedly skipping school. The case put a new twist on the concept of serving detention.

Locked up for truancy: a good lesson, or over the top?

Locked up for truancy: a good lesson, or over the top?

"Whaddya gonna do, arrest me?"

It's a common last-ditch comment made by moody teens looking to get out of a sticky situation.

But in the case of a 16-year-old habitually truant teen from Görlitz, in eastern Germany, the answer was, "Er, yeah."

After the schoolgirl failed to show up for a healthy portion of her government mandated education last year, the education ministry in the eastern German state of Saxony, as well as the courts, were called into the fray.

But it wasn't until the girl's parents refused to pay a fine for their daughter's truancy, and the teen herself turned her nose up at working off the fine via community service, the court, it seems, was left with no recourse.

It sentenced her to two weeks in prison.

What can you learn locked up?

Schülerinnen während des Unterrichts

Showing up is a prerequisite for taking part

A spokeswoman for the education ministry in Dresden said she did not want to comment on the court decision.

But a Greens party politician pointed out that in this case, the punishment was far from fitting the crime.

"I wonder what a school girl is expected to learn in prison," Astrid Günther-Schmidt, parliamentary party speaker for education issues, told the dpa news service.

Moreover, Schmidt pointed out that normally, fines against truancy are paid by the parents.

"If the parents refuse to pay the money, then they should be the ones to face consequences," she said.

However, the judge on the case, Andreas Pech, told dpa he doesn't see another alternative.

"The sentence stands. It is meant to be an instructive measure," Pech said. "The student should learn that skipping day after day of school is no small crime. Class time is class time. There's no excuse."

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