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

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?


  1. Understanding Miranda rights is very important. I was unaware of the history of the Miranda case. It’s amazing that Miranda was stabbed and his possible attacker was not convicted due to keeping silent. I would love to see a follow up article about your rights when you are stopped by police before you are under arrest.

  2. I believe it is worth noting that children are not, nor should they be shielded from their rights and or future rights as citizen. Looking back, you’re required/strongly encouraged to participate in pledging to the flag prior to class starting. A major goal in my fifth grade social studies course was complete memorization of the preamble to the Constitution. I personally only knew a vague rendition of my rights, so, I find it surprising that in the event that an officer doesn’t read someone their rights all evidence is disposed of in a court of law. It is important for US citizens to know their rights because it prevents corruption and unlawful infringement on their freedom. I think a lesson plan based on student’s individual autonomy could enhance their esteem as a person and citizen. ‘Understanding and Applying the Miranda Decision’ is an essential lesson plan reference.

  3. What “schools do” matters in establishing students’ support for equal rights. The general idea, that social attitudes, such as prejudice, racism and sexism are learned and developed also leads to the idea that these attitudes may be unlearned (Zick et al. 2011 ). Relevant school climate factors suggest potential school differences that may foster the development of egalitarian attitudes toward others. Openness to discussion in a school may not only be important for its relation to civic knowledge (Schulz 2002 ; Schulz et al. 2010 ; Torney et al. 1975 ), it may also establish interest in informed voting and the ability to embrace conflict within democracy (Campbell 2008 ; Godfrey and Grayman 2014 ). In the light of the results in this chapter, open classroom discussion may also be important for fostering egalitarian attitudes among students. Van Hiel et al. ( 2004 ) suggested that educational interventions aimed at reducing the “need for closure”, a form of cognitive closed-mindedness, might reduce authoritarianism, a common predictor of prejudice. School interventions with teachers have been able to promote higher levels of open classroom discussion in the United States (Barr et al. 2015 ). However, these have not translated into a reduction of prejudice. Current results are encouraging, however, showing positive results for this line of reasoning across different contexts.

  4. It is definitely of the upmost importance that a person knows what Miranda rights are and understands them before hearing them for the first time from an officer. Usually when Miranda rights are given to a person being arrested they are given far too quickly for a person to understand if it is their first time hearing it. For this reason learning about Miranda rights in the social studies classroom is very important.

  5. I remember taking a criminal justice course in high school in which I was taught the Miranda rights and what my rights would be in a scenario like this. I think teaching it as young as elementary is a great idea. You are never too young to start learning about your rights as an American Citizen. I think that its extremely important for children, young adults, and even adults to know what their rights are so if they are in a scenario in which they are being arrested, they know what to expect and how to handle the situation. There are a lot of juveniles today that probably didn’t know their rights in the time of the occurrence.

  6. I believe it is extremely important for all citizens to know and understand their rights, especially in potentially scary or overwhelming situations. I was first introduced to Miranda Rights because my family liked to watch crime shows, but I didn’t really know what they were or that there was a name for them. I was first introduced to them being called Miranda Rights in my eighth grade American History class. We went over the court case and connected it to our fifth and sixth amendment rights. Something like this could be very useful in a social studies classroom, that eighth grade lesson has stuck with me for all this time. I would want to strive to have the students make the connection between the rights and the amendments on their own and see for themselves how the Miranda Rights connect to the amendments. Hopefully something like this can help students remember their rights just like how my eighth grade American History teacher helped me remember them.

  7. Before reading this article I wasn’t too sure what Miranda Rights exactly were. To be honest, I had always just heard them on television shows and I have seen silly videos of people reciting them. In high school, I never remember learning about them and I think it would be beneficial to have a lesson about Miranda Rights. I think it’s very important to know your rights and what those rights consist of. I have never been in trouble with the law so I always felt like I never needed to know these rights. However, after reading this article I think it’s really important to inform students about these rights in order for them to be a more well-rounded and knowledgable citizen.

  8. Before reading this article, I had a very good understanding of my Miranda rights. My father was a law enforcement officer for over 20 years, and he made sure his family had the best possible understanding of our rights and the law. I think understanding Miranda rights is very important for U.S. citizens because it allows them to be comfortable in a situation where they are taken into police custody. Some other ways that social studies and/or language arts teachers can address this topic in their classrooms are by helping the students understand every part of the right and by showing appropriate videos so the students can understand the rights being used in a good situation. I think that will help students fully comprehend their Miranda rights. A resource that stood out to me was the resource about what happens if police don’t read you your rights. All the resources were very helpful.

  9. I think that teaching our youth about their Miranda Rights is very important. I knew little to nothing about them before reading this article. Really all I knew is what is seen on TV and I think that many other people could also say the same. No one has ever explained them to me or gone over the meaning behind it. I think things like your rights should be something social studies teachers should definitely go over. It could save someone from either getting into a lot of trouble over it and overall, just a good thing to know.

  10. As social studies teachers, we should be striving to create active and knowledgable citizens. Teaching the Miranda Rights, their origin, and their purpose allows students to better understand how to behave as citizens and recognize when they are being targeted beyond what is fair. Today, there are many examples on social media of citizens evoking their rights in instances where law enforcement are being unlawful. Students should understand that their rights are just as important as any other citizen.

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