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What Are the Effects of Truancy?

Kristi graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in Human Development and Developmental Psychopathology of Children.

Residents on one of the balconies of the Robert Taylor homes, a low income, high-rise apartment building in Chicago.

Residents on one of the balconies of the Robert Taylor homes, a low income, high-rise apartment building in Chicago.

The Quest for Truth

Truancy has definite consequences for students and for communities. An average of 68% of male prison inmates are high school dropouts. That is a staggering rate and an overwhelming reason to deal with truancy right now.

In my quest for information about truancy, several things were apparent:

  1. There is a different definition for truancy for each state in the US
  2. Schools may have 90% of their students in attendance every day; however, different students miss class on different days, so it's easy to "make the grade" when in fact, kids are chronically absent over the course of an entire year.
  3. Kids are most likely to be absent in high school.
  4. The highest number of truant children are from low-income families.
  5. The two major educational deficiencies children experience from truancy are in reading and math.

Why Aren't Kids Coming to School?

There seems to be a buffet of reasons kids aren't coming to school. There does seem to be an understanding about the influx in truant students across the united states. With the population steadily on the rise, it's no mystery that the breakdown of educational strongholds is happening. In low-income neighborhoods it's becoming more common for kids to watch the bus drive by than to get on and commit to learning.

In addition to growing up in poverty, kids may also have to deal with absentee parents or parents who are excessively mobile. They may have parents who are incarcerated or who are addicted to drugs or alcohol. They may come from a family that doesn't feel education is important and that isn't aware of the attendance laws. Kids may not want to attend school because of the school environment. Perhaps it's unsafe, they are being bullied or they are having a negative experience through academics or unsatisfactory peer groups. There also exists an internal phenomenon known as the "pushing-out" of students whereby some schools and districts feel that that they should expel low-achieving and truant kids, in effect raising the overall academic achievements of the school and district. This type of gross negligence is only helping to fill prisons, not raise academic achievement standards. 9 out of 10 inmates across the nation are high school dropouts. In the two years I worked at Lansing Penitentiary, I never met an inmate that said he wanted to fail.

A man being arrested for Methamphetamine possession in San Fransisco, California.

A man being arrested for Methamphetamine possession in San Fransisco, California.

The Truth About Truancy

Statistics show that truancy has devastating effects on both the student and the community. The short-term effects are an increase in delinquent, criminal and gang activity. Long-term effects include poor physical and mental health, the continuance of family poverty and a high risk of addiction and incarceration.

Schools are filing truancy petitions and parents are being brought into court in some jurisdictions however, in cities the size of San Francisco alone there are 5000 kids truant every day. There are not enough court rooms and not enough prosecutors to write affidavits to address the number of truancies that take place each day in the United States. There needs to be a change of attitude toward the importance of education; a leadership that systematically convinces and enlightens society to the truth about truancy.

The Road to Right

Several prison systems have instituted new programs called "Beyond Scared Straight" and the A & E Television Network has televised them. They have many different methods of working with, breaking down and getting through to the assemblage of both male and female subjects. Tactics range from friendly and brotherly to loud, abrasive, intrusive and terrifying. During the course of the program, the kids who participate are always ostensibly affected. Follow up visits with youth or their parents (mostly by phone) have about a 70-80% success rate of integrating back into society. Considering the odds of trying to make it on the streets in dangerous areas, with high crime rates and little or no guidance, each program is typically one day to one week in a lock-down setting with inmates, security officers, staff and crew and a life changing impact. Kids have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.


Nicole King123 on April 25, 2017:

Well I had a horable experience with trunacy.The school nurse has all my sons excuses,she didnt turn them in to the office.I still had to spend 3 days in jail.

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on September 08, 2012:

timetraveler, Thank you for reading, commenting and voting. It's a frustrating and devastating cycle that continues to go on and on. I'm interested to read your work. Thank you for the invitation. -K

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on September 08, 2012:

jellygator, Thank you for reading and commenting. That sounds like quite an experience. Prison is a whole other world that totally changes the way you think, see, understand. Hopefully one day the light will come on and education will be a priority. Great comment. -K

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on September 08, 2012:

teaches, Thank you for your input. You are such a great example of always wanting to give kids the best. I read it in your work and hear it in your words. I've learned so much from you. Thank you for that. -K

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on September 08, 2012:

donnah75, Thank you for adding to the discussion. It's a tragic reality because those kids are going to be the majority one day - us the minority. Then what? Preparation can make you or break you. Are we setting ourselves up to fail? Thanks for voting and sharing. -K

Sondra Rochelle from USA on September 08, 2012:

This was extremely interesting. If you take a look at some of my hubs about the educational system, you will find answers to some of the questions posed here. I worked as a dropout prevention teacher for many years, and I KNOW what keeps kids in school. I also know that until America is willing to properly fund education so that class sizes can be smaller, teachers can teach kids instead of pushing for test scores, teachers' skills are properly used, homogeneous grouping returns, etc., etc...we will continue to lose our kids.

Enjoyed this one very much. Voted Up.

jellygator from USA on September 07, 2012:

I have worked as a prison guard as well as taught college freshmen while I was working toward a degree myself. I don't understand how people could not "get it" about how important education is! I do know that there are a lot of smart people in the prison system, and a lot of ignorant ones outside of it, though! Hopefully someone will rethink their own children's attendance after reading your hub and focus on what is important.

Dianna Mendez on September 07, 2012:

It is discouraging as a teacher to see a good student fall because of truancy. Your are right, it is something that has to be dealt with at home, but never really is. Parents don't role model good attendance and commitment before their kids and it results in lack of attention to important life values.

Donna Hilbrandt from Upstate New York on September 07, 2012:

Wonderful discussion. So many students and families don't see the value in school, so they don't find it important to attend on a regular basis. It is a sad reality. Voted up and sharing.

Chen on September 07, 2012:

Excellent job, and so true. Kids are just looking for escape of what they see as problems, unpleasant, inconvenient, so they want to get away from dealing with it right now. They have no idea-- no frame of reference-- to understand how much worse things can get in the future if they avoid responsibility now. Serious attention and community efforts are, indeed, invaluable. Wonderful hub, voted up.

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on September 06, 2012:

gmwilliams, That's so true. My older boy tells me that the kids in his grade tease him all the time about being so smart and at times he feels the normal junior high inferiority. I've taught him that instead of returning with hatred and ugliness, he should politely remind those boys that, it's that IQ that's going to make sure he doesn't end up with brains like theirs...then feel great about the fact that he has that talent.

My kids and I joke all the time about quitting school and I tell them, "As soon as you get your PHD. you can do whatever you like." Thanks for the input.

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on September 06, 2012:

billybuc, Thank you very much. Every child deserves a chance. I'm sure that adults appreciate when people put effort and time into them - why not give children the same opportunity? -K

Grace Marguerite Williams from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York on September 06, 2012:

You are quite welcome indeed. Not only poor children but children from all socioeconomic spheres have the prevaliing idea that being smart is equivalent to being a nerd and uncool. There is book which discusses this very same topic. I forgot the name of book but the author details that American culture is an anti-intellectual culture, it values being popular over being intellectual. Intellectuals are often viewed with disdain in this society.

Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on September 06, 2012:

gmwilliams, I agree with your excellent comment and I'd like to add that viewing education as important should be a community effort in all communities. I have witnessed children of all ethnic backgrounds suffer because of the lack of positive role models which starts in the home. If a parent doesn't instill the value of an education in a child it will continue to cycle. I'm convinced that kids who come from affluent homes and neighborhoods have more access to education and not taking advantage of it is a travesty to the development of the community.

My kids argue with me about disliking school and being called nerds because they're both in the accelerated programs but I continue to stress to them that the nerds are the ones who end up with good jobs, better lives and more choices. I believe essentially we're making the same argument. Re-education is a great idea. We just need a slogan, a face and a place to launch it.

Thank you for taking the time to read and leave your input. It is much appreciated.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 06, 2012:

A powerful hub and one well-worth reading. You have detailed the problems well; this is just one more problem we face in this country because of poverty.

Grace Marguerite Williams from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York on September 06, 2012:

Made many excellent points. Many children from lower income families simply do not see the value of education. Many lower income parents are of the mindset of just mere daily survival. Their concerns are of the present only, future concerns are too daunting for many lower income parents to consider.

The lives of lower income children are extremely precarious. Their parents either do not have jobs or they have menial jobs. The lower income household is often not a condusive environment for children to receive positive values. Many lower income parents do not stress the value of education to their children. They believe that education is often not for them and/or for their children.

Many lower income people have a vastly different mindest than that of middle and/or upper income people who value the value of education. Many lower income people have to be reeducated regarding the value of an education for themselves and for their children. Teachers and adminstrators have to make the initial step to do this. Also, many lower income parents need to become more proactive within their particular school system for the benefit of their children.

Also, I would like to add that many lower income children, particularly nonwhite children( I am a Black woman) portend that education is not hip and cool, and only for nerd. Professor John McWhorter in his book, Losing The Race, discussed the social environment of underachievement and/or antiachievement in the Black community. Children who are smart are often derided by other children as being and acting "white". Those who are not smart are more respected. Education, according to such children, are not to be taken seriously.

In essence, school is not viewed as cool by such children. School is not viewed as relevance. Many of such children do not have positive role models in their communities, the "positive" role models they have are the number runners, dope pushers, pimps, and other nefarious characters who are high earners. As a result of such, many of these children and youth do not see the value of a solid education. There needs to be a complete reeducation of lower income communities regarding this issue.

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