This came across my desk recently from the NCSS Smartbrief. It seems that Manatee County has established a new course they are calling 'Know the Law'. This course will be for 7th grade (and some 9th grade) students, and as such, it will overlap with the Civics course that most students in 7th grade take in Florida. The course is intended to The "teach students to understand their rights when it comes to the law and the consequences for violating it."

Mainly, the class focuses on the consequences students will face if they break the law. Offenses include doing drugs, committing a violent offense or throwing house parties with alcohol.

"It's going to focus on how it will affect them and their future if they do drugs or commit other crimes," Bristow said. "Because a lot of them don't think of the consequences to their futures."

The lesson has a large section on future consequences, which details how having a criminal record can affect a student's chances to participate in the military, attend certain colleges and work in certain jobs.

The lesson also explains when a juvenile can be charged as an adult for certain crimes, the differences between misdemeanors and felonies and what constitutes sexual battery/rape.

I've been looking around for the course curriculum and haven't found it yet. I would love to see just how it approaches some of these issues, and how in depth it gets into helping students understand their rights as well as their responsibilities. Is it just primarily focused on consequences? Or does it actually get into things like civil liberties and rights? I also find it interesting that this course will be taught through the civics course. Without a doubt, the civics course could lend itself well to this sort of thing, as long as it is integrated smoothly. But that is the question, isn't it? The civics course itself, you will recall, has an EOC attached to it, so when and how will teachers include THIS curriculum without impeding instruction in the general civics course? If anyone knows any more about this, we would love to hear from you!

You can read the whole article that discusses this course at the Bradenton Herald.