Written by: Cynthia P. Letsch, J.D.
The intended audience for this article is middle and high school students. Please encourage your children to read it. Social studies and government teachers will have expanded articles to discuss in class.
You may, sometimes, hear grownups grumbling about laws, but the truth is that we need a lot of the laws that we have. Laws do many good things for us. Below are some laws that you may already know. Think of some additional laws for which you are thankful and discuss them with your parents and teachers.
These laws tell drivers what they can and cannot do. They keep other drivers on their own side of the road. (It is illegal to cross the line when there is a solid line separating the lanes, whether they are lanes going the same direction or opposite directions). They let us know who needs to stop first at an intersection (When there is a stop sign on all four corners, the driver who arrived first has the right-of-way, but if everyone stops at the same time, the driver on the right gets to go first.)
The laws stop other people from taking your things. Imagine how crazy it would be if a person was allowed to just take what he or she wanted, and there was no law against it! You would not be able to leave your bicycle or sporting equipment outside, at all. The strongest people would be able to take everything. Taking property that does not belong to you is called theft. It is a crime and it is a tort. Most people know that they can go to jail or may have to pay a fine, if they commit a crime.
A tort is a wrongful action that is committed against another person that results in either physical injury or economic injury (ask your teacher or parent what that means). If you have suffered injury because of the actions of another person, laws allow you to collect money from the person who caused your injury. That only seems fair, right?! Without tort laws, people could act in very selfish ways, no matter who it was hurting.
Think about these laws and be thankful that we live in a society where laws help us to live peacefully and respectfully with each other.