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How To Prevent Truancy

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Truancy Defined

The definition of truancy is when a child, typically adolescent to teen aged, misses more than the allowed number of days of school. Each state has a different protocol for what they consider is an appropriate number of unexcused absences. "Habitual truancy" is when a child misses several consecutive days in a row or hits a total number of unexcused absences for a semester or year. In cases of habitual truancy, it is not uncommon for the juvenile or family court to become involved.

Consequences of Truancy

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) recognizes four main divisions between the risk factors and kids who have a pattern of skipping school.

1. Family Orientation

  • inadequate supervision
  • poor attitude about importance of educationpoverty
  • alcohol or drug abuse
  • uninformed about current state attendance laws

2. School Influences

  • Population of school
  • School teaching styles
  • School does not provide a "safe" environment
  • Shortage of resources to deal with the investigation of potentially truant kids
  • School's ability to deal with learning disabilities and emotional disabilities
  • Inconsistent collection of attendance data
  • Overall attitude about attendance and learning

3. Socioeconomic Issues

  • Kids who have to work to support the family
  • Kids who are not allowed to attend school for religious reasons
  • Single parent families
  • Kids of military families who may be excessively mobile
  • Parents with multiple jobs
  • Inadequate transportation

4. The Students Themselves

  • Being bullied at school
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Illness or emotional problems
  • Mental disability
  • Social disorders

Note to Dad
Note to Dad | Source

Effects of Truancy

The effects of children chronically missing school are both immediate and latent. Kids may fall prey to being "pushed out" and be expelled because they are truant or underachieving. Kids who are truant are more likely to dropout or not graduate and if they do dropout they are less likely to acquire their GED.

Kids who attempt to stay in school but continue to struggle with truancy also struggle with low grades and may have to repeat grades. Kids may have behavioral issues and administrative staff may not be equipped to deal with the needs of the individual. Kids may resort to substance abuse , delinquency, criminal activity, gang involvement or they may become involved in more serious criminal activity which can be problematic. See Characteristics of a Juvenile Delinquent. Children who are habitually truant can be placed in juvenile detention facilities. 60% of all cases that go to court are adjudicated - meaning they are convicted. The outcomes are varying because each case is disposed of based on the individual. In most cases kids are placed on probation, however kids can be put in foster care or group homes. There is no evidence that suggests taking truant children away from their homes and families successfully deters truancy.

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Ways To Reduce Truancy

Experts agree that the #1 way to reduce truancy is to attach families to the schools and the community to work together to understand the importance of education. If the school, the family and the community are all are working together, it's much more likely that productive strategies will be put into place and used effectively.

Schools must keep accurate attendance records and maintain consistency for all students in regards to excused and unexcused absences. If the policies about absences are clear, students and parents will be less likely to be confused.

School districts sometimes create alternatives to suspension and expulsion. Often times schools or juvenile and family court systems will negotiate contracts with truant kids hoping to foster attendance by holding the child accountable.

Many school districts offer after school programs, alternative school programs, technical schools and specialized training schools which have been successful for many youth. They may include dance, art, advanced courses or training and are often tailored to the individual student's learning style through the use of an IEP (individual education program).

Creating a safe and positive atmosphere for all students that provides discipline, structure and support from the family, the school and the community will most likely be our best hope for reducing truancy in the future.

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Comments 20 comments

spartucusjones profile image

spartucusjones 4 years ago from Parts Unknown

Very well researched and informative hub! You offered many practical tips to help combat the issue of habitual truancy. I agree you really need to pinpoint the root cause to figure out why someone wouldn't want to attend school. If you work at creating a positive learning environment, the students would be more likely to want to attend.


krsharp05 profile image

krsharp05 4 years ago from 18th and Vine Author

Spartucus, Thank you for your input. Understanding the existing problem will make remediation much easier. If students are enjoying school they will return. Great to hear from you. -K


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

We have a family friend with a son who skipped school. She decided to attend class with him for the following week, since he obviously needed help making it to school. It was rather hilarious, as she sat with him at his lunch table, etc. He never skipped school again! Truancy is a real problem with some kids - and the reasons vary considerably (some kids are skipping school for fun, others because they help support their families through work).


krsharp05 profile image

krsharp05 4 years ago from 18th and Vine Author

I love it! I served as truancy officer for two years and it was pretty much the same. I had five cases and I followed kids around, took them to school, doctors, court or anywhere they needed to go. I had to write an undergraduate thesis on those kiddos - it turned into a book, literally. Thank you for your funny comment, leah. I appreciate you being here. -K


donnah75 profile image

donnah75 4 years ago from Upstate New York

This is sadly a growing problem. I so wish we had a truancy officer at the school where I work. Some of my students have so many absences that I forget what they look like. Voted up and useful.


Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 4 years ago from San Francisco

Thank you for this. i am a big advocate of parental involvement.


krsharp05 profile image

krsharp05 4 years ago from 18th and Vine Author

donnah, thank you for commenting. It would be great if there was a truancy officer at every school. Perhaps you would see those kiddos. I'm a firm believer that our prison systems would look a lot different than they do now if we paid more attention to what is going on at school. Thank you for taking the time to read, I appreciate your input. -K


krsharp05 profile image

krsharp05 4 years ago from 18th and Vine Author

mhatter, great to hear from you. Parental involvement seems to play a major role in education. I have two boys, one is much more independent than the other. My youngest son, at the age of ten, asked me if he could move out, get a job and get married. He was as serious as a yen year old could be. I'm certain he had a lovely bride picked out. I explained that he could fulfill all of those dreams, as soon as he graduated with his PHD. Thank you for taking the time to read :) -K


greatstuff profile image

greatstuff 4 years ago from Malaysia

spartucusjones is right when he said that you need to figure out why they don't want to attend school. Maybe each student has different learning curves and if we make it easy and fun for them, they may enjoy school? My youngest son has dyslexia and he finds school subjects difficult to follow. I think the reason why he enjoys attending class are the responsibilities given to him. His class teacher understands his problem and also know what he likes, so he is given assignments and duties that he really enjoys. But the most important point, is his friends. He loves them and look forward to see them in school.


krsharp05 profile image

krsharp05 4 years ago from 18th and Vine Author

greatstuff, thank you for reading and commenting. It's fantastic that your son has a good teacher and great friends. It makes such a positive difference for kiddos when they love being there. You're correct in that children learn differently - they sure do. Kids definitely aren't robotic in any way. Glad to have your input. -K


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago

Another great hub on teen issues! This had never been my problem when I was a kid, not because I was such a diligent student but because I knew my mom wouldn't take this matter lightly if she found out about it. She was very strict, always made sure she knew where I went and whom I hanged out with. It made me resent her quite a bit back then, but now I'm very grateful she raised me the way she did.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

Good suggestions on helping to keep truancy to a minimum in our schools. I find that taking attendance does help in keeping them accountable.


krsharp05 profile image

krsharp05 4 years ago from 18th and Vine Author

Om, it's a good thing your mom was on top of things. I know that my boys don't appreciate when I do "the mom" stuff but they will one day! :) You turned out great and now you know what to do with your kiddos! Thanks for reading and leaving your input. It's always good to hear from you. -K


krsharp05 profile image

krsharp05 4 years ago from 18th and Vine Author

teaches, thank you for reading and commenting. Taking steps to prevent truancy is so important. I'm glad we have people like you who are willing to take the time and energy to invest in kiddos. Glad you are here :) -K


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 4 years ago from San Francisco

As someone who has never skipped school (and could never even imagine doing so), truancy is a difficult concept for me to wrap my mind around. Thanks for giving me a more robust understanding of truancy's underlying causes and long term consequences!


krsharp05 profile image

krsharp05 4 years ago from 18th and Vine Author

Simone, Thank you for reading and commenting. I didn't skip school until I had a tragic event happen and no family support. Luckily I had enough credits to graduate and go straight to college but most kids aren't that fortunate. I appreciate you taking the time to be here. -K


ashley 19 months ago

Maybe students wouldn't be skipping if teachers were less monotone,had incredibly boring teaching styles with no form of individuality and freedom to study what they WANT to,not being forced to.


krsharp05 profile image

krsharp05 7 months ago from 18th and Vine Author

ashley, Thanks for reading and commenting. Perhaps that's true however due to politics and things that are out of their control, teachers are often given a curriculum that they have to adhere to. While some teachers are just not great in their delivery, that I agree with, it's still important to be present - to finish high school and if possible go to college. -K


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