School Ends Later to Lower Juvenile Crime

August 18, 2008 8:29:34 PM PDT
Students at the four middle schools in the Merced City School District are starting and ending their days an hour later this year. Police say the goal is to give the kids less time to get in trouble after the final bell.The first day of school is also the first time these middle school students have started class at 8:50am and ended at 3:15pm.

Sandra Lopez/Parent: "It's an adjustment for me to get used to taking them an hour later, but I think it's a noble cause."

The Merced City School District made the change to limit the amount of time the students spend unsupervised in the afternoon.

Terry Brace/Merced City School District Superintendent: "There's less down time between when they're out of school and when their parents get home."

Authorities say in the past they've seen a spike in juvenile crime like graffiti and theft between 2pm and 5pm. And police say the suspects are starting at disturbingly young age.

Cmdr. Norm Andrade/Merced Police Dept. "We know that crimes are being committed at a younger age, and gangs are enlisting juveniles at a younger age, as low as about 10 years old."

That's why a group of local leaders known as the Community Violence Intervention and Prevention task force recommended the later release time. But their suggestion did not come without controversy. Some parents resisted the change, which also requires some elementary schools to start and end earlier to avoid a bus shortage. But other parents don't mind making adjustments.

Adrianna Quintanilla/Parent: "I think it's going to be great because then i won't have to worry as much about my daughter and who she's hanging out with."

Police plan to analyze statistics at the end of the year to see how well the later release times are working when it comes to curbing crime.

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