Teaching about Miranda Rights in Social Studies Classrooms

Miranda Warning- https://www.dalesavage.com/police-dont-read-miranda-rights/


By Dr. David Childs, Ph.D.
Northern Kentucky University

When one is apprehended or detained by law enforcement in the United States, police officers are required to give the suspect a Miranda warning (Usually referred to as their Miranda Rights). Miranda rights are a notification that is to be given by an officer to a criminal suspect in police custody, advising them of certain rights they have as US citizens. The basic premise of the statement is that the individual that is in police custody can lawfully remain silent and refuse to answer any questions or provide any information to law enforcement officials. This is to prevent any information from being used against them in court unlawfully. The specific language for the Miranda warning varies between jurisdictions but has the same basic principles. For example, the warning may be stated as follows:

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in court. You have the right to talk to a lawyer for advice before we ask you any questions. You have the right to have a lawyer with you during questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish. If you decide to answer questions now without a lawyer present, you have the right to stop answering at any time.”

Established in 1966 after the Miranda v. Arizona case, the Miranda warning is part of an effort to protect citizens’ fifth amendment rights, as well as their sixth amendment right to council from being violated by police officers. If law enforcement officials decline to read the suspect their rights, none of the evidence collected from the interrogation can be used against them in a court of law.

Many American citizens do not fully understand their Miranda rights, what they mean or the historical precedent behind them. Social studies classrooms can be great spaces to help youth understand what the Miranda warning is all about, and further understand their own rights in US society. Below we have included several links to lesson plans that teachers can use in their middle and high school classrooms to help shed more light on the subject.

Lesson Plans
Miranda v. Arizona (1966)
You Have Right to Remain Silent
Understanding and Applying the Miranda Decision
Educator Resources for Miranda Rights
Right to Remain Silent: Miranda v. Arizona
Lesson Plan: Miranda Warning
Resource Packet for Teachers Law Day 2016
Miranda and Teens
Confessions- Lesson Plan on Miranda Rights
Miranda Rights Lesson Plan
Your Right to Remain Silent: Miranda v. Arizona
Search The Learning Network Search The Right to Know Your Rights
Miranda V. Arizona (1966) Lesson
Miranda Rights- Lesson Template for James Madison Foundation

Other Teaching Resources
Miranda v. Arizona: The Rights to Justice
Teaching About Miranda warnings
The Right to Remain Silent: Miranda V. Arizona

References
What Are Your Miranda Rights?
Miranda Warning
Miranda Warning Overview
Fifth Amendment Miranda Rights
Miranda Rights: What Happens If the Police Don’t Read You Your Rights
The Miranda rights are established

Discussion Questions
1. To what extent did you understand your Miranda rights before reading this article?
2. Why do you think understanding Miranda rights is important for US citizens?
3. What are other ways that social studies and/or language arts teachers can address this topic in their classrooms?
4. What resources stood out to you above? Which do you find most interesting and helpful?




9 Comments

  1. Personally, I have always known my Miranda right because I watched Cops on TV all of the time growing up. I think it is important for people to know their rights but not as young as middle school. I think they are too young to be worried about getting in trouble with the law. I do think it is important to know other rights though like the right to vote, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, etc. It may be appropriate fro high school students to know if they plan on going into the Criminal Justice field. But it is criminals responsibility to know and find out their rights.

  2. Hello Briana. I really appreciate your thoughtful response here. That is a wonderful thing that you have grown up knowing your Miranda rights. I would just add that it is good for young people even at the elementary age to know their Miranda Rights. While there are many good police officers in our nation, there has been many cases where the rights of children have been violated. For example, Tamir Rice (A twelve year old African American male) was killed by police officers unlawfully. So I would say it may depend on the socioeconomic background and the neighborhood one is from. But in a democracy, the younger one knows their rights the better.

  3. Contrary to Briana, I think middle school would be the perfect age for children to learn their Miranda rights. With more and more juveniles turning to crime for whatever reason, they need to be aware of the rights they have as a juvenile, plus the rights they will have as they grow older since juveniles and adults have different rights. As previously stated, there are many wonderful officers in the country. However, there are also officers who lean into the typical media cop–racist, sexist, etc.
    Did you know that in the state of Kentucky, officers are required 0 hours of training in the academy about dealing with juveniles? In many other states, the required training is minimal. This could be why so many rights of children are violated. They need to know they have rights and be able to use them should the issue arise.

  4. I have always heard my Miranda right because I watching Law and Order: SVU on TV. I think it is super important for people to know their rights no matter what age you are. If you are a person living in this country you need to know what your rights are. Growing up in the intercity I know a bunch of people who were arrested at young ages for many different reasons. If we as a society are expected to obey the laws than we should be expected to know our rights to make sure that no one of power abuses that. You never know where life will take you until you get there, so be educated.

  5. I have always heard my Miranda right from watching Law and Order: SVU on TV. I think it is super important for people to know their rights no matter what ages you are. If you are a person living in this country you need to know what your rights are. Growing up in the intercity, I know a bunch of people who were arrested at young ages for many different reasons. If we as a society are expected to obey the laws than we should be expected to know our rights to make sure that no one of power abuses that. You never know where life will take you until you get there, so be educated.

  6. The question isn’t “should rights be taught?” The question should be “why shouldn’t they be taught?” There is only one reasonable answer to the latter question: because people are easier to control if they don’t know any better. The earlier, in a child’s development, you teach them the more confident they will be in later stages, on the subject matter. Teaching rights in school is important, but this kind of education should start at home. Parents, in conjunction with educators, need to help prepare these kids for life outside of childhood. This is key to prevent future citizenry from being taken advantage of by rogue officials. We must not forget, due to our retribution based criminal justice system, the possibility for wrongful prosecution is more likely now than previously. As such, people need the tools to protect themselves and we have a responsibility to pass those tools onto the next generation.

  7. Before reading this article, I knew the Miranda rights included “you have the right to remain silent” and I also knew that law enforcement officials are required to recite these rights to you. After reading this article, I learned that any evidence obtained during the interrogation cannot be used in court. I think that Miranda rights are important for US citizens to understand because if the situation arises that they are being detained, being read these rights may not make sense to them in the moment. US citizens should know that they do, in fact, have the right to remain silent and that they should exercise this right as they see fit. Teachers can address this topic in the classroom by teaching the Miranda rights in conjunction with the US Amendments. By doing so, the students can relate this legislature to real life experiences and hopefully this will allow for the information to be easily recalled if they ever need it. The lesson plan “You have the right to remain silent” seems like a great resource. The questions and answers are helpful because, again, they relate legislation to real life scenarios.

  8. After reading the article, I also agree with Kaitlin as far as teaching middle schoolers what their rights are, especially the Miranda Rights. Teaching them these rights are important because, like Kaitlin and Bri both mentioned above, this knowledge helps better prepare if they are in certain situations. I firmly believe that by having them learn these rights, we are able to protect the innocent from saying something that makes them look guilty of an unrelated crime. With knowing rights, comes a possible advantage if there is contact with an enforcement officer who is sexist, racist, etc. The advantage is that you will have knowledge of these rights and you will be able to execute them, preventing the possibility of digging yourself deeper for no reason.

  9. Considering how important Miranda Rights are to our justice system in this country, they should absolutely be taught in schools. I was never taught what they were when I was younger, and the only exposure I had to them was in movies and TV shows. I never fully understood what they were until a few years ago. As citizens of the United States, it is important for all of us to understand what rights we do and do not have, Miranda Rights included. Schools are a perfect place for educators to inform their students about these rights, particularly in a social studies class.

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