The Most Basic Freedom Is Freedom to Quit

"In general, children are the most brutalized of people, not because they are small and weak, but because they don’t have the same freedoms to quit that adults have."

"But now I want to turn to the violence we do to our children by forcing them into schools. When schooling is compulsory, schools are, by definition, prisons. A prison is a place where one is forced to be and within which people are not free to choose their own activities, spaces, or associates. Children cannot walk away from school, and within the school children cannot walk away from mean teachers, oppressive and pointless assignments, or cruel classmates. For some children, the only out—the only real way to quit—is suicide. As writer Helen Smith put it in her book,The Scarred Heart, in describing the suicide of a 13-year-old girl who had been regularly bullied in school: “After missing fifty-three out of the required one hundred and eighty days of school, she was told that she would have to return to school or appear before a truancy board which could then send her to a juvenile detention center. She decided the better alternative was to go into her bedroom and hang herself with a belt. … In times past, she could have just dropped out of school, but now kids like her are trapped by compulsory education."