My Views on Anti-Gang Legislation and Information-Sharing Between Court and Schools

By Barbara A. Babb, University of Baltimore School of Law, Associate Professor of Law and Director, CFCC

House Speaker Michael Busch recently has proposed legislation to combat gang presence in Maryland schools. The bill intends to use federal funds to provide schools in all Maryland counties with gang prevention programs and to increase information-sharing between the courts and schools, allowing schools to identify better youth at risk of recruitment or involvement with gangs. Under the bill, courts are required to inform schools anytime a child is removed from the home under a Child in Need of Assistance (child abuse or neglect) proceeding or is convicted of any juvenile offense.

I recently appeared on WYPR’s Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast in support of the information-sharing, and here is why: from my experience directing the University of Baltimore School of Law Center for Families, Children and the Courts’ Truancy Court Program, I have learned time and time again how a lack of information about the child’s living situation and how the child spends out-of-school time can prevent schools from adequately serving the student. Everyone loses. I believe that schools need this kind of information in order to keep children safe and to make sure that schools are solving problems for children instead of augmenting them.

For those who have experience working with or studying youth or schools (and we have all been students at school), do you think the sharing of information is beneficial, or do the risks of stigmatization outweigh the benefits? What protections, if any, must be in place to ensure that this bill has a positive effect on the lives of children?

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