The following is from www.jointogether.org
THE FACT IS. . .
Truancy is a widespread problem facing communities today.
Consider the following facts:
· Youth who are truant greatly increase their risk for dropping
out of school. And high-school dropouts are more likely to be
unemployed, on welfare, or to end up in prison than students who
graduate from high school or college.
This information comes
from the U.S. Department of Education,
National Center for
Several studies have documented the connection between drug use and truancy. A report
from the University of Maryland Center for Substance Abuse
Research found that 51 percent of female juvenile detainees not
in school at the time of their arrests tested positive for drug
· Another study by the U.S. Department of Justice's Drug Use
Forecasting (DUF) program reported that more than half (53
percent) of a group of 403 male juvenile arrestees in San Diego,
California, tested positive for drug use when taken to juvenile
hall. Those who did not attend school were more likely (67
percent versus 49 percent) to test positive for drug use than
those who did attend.
School-age children and
teens who are unsupervised during the hours after school are far
more likely to use alcohol, drugs, and tobacco, engage in
criminal and other high-risk behaviors, receive poor grades, and
drop out of school than those children who have the opportunity
to benefit from constructive activities supervised by responsible
adults. In a 1994 Harris poll, over one-half of teachers singled
out "children who are left on their own after school"
as the primary explanation for students' difficulties in class.
This information comes from the National Education Commission on
Time and Learning.
· Students with low
reading scores are more likely to exhibit delinquent behavior
than their peers who read well, according to the U.S. Department
of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency
· Truancy can be costly
to communities, since state education funding typically is based
on actual attendance. Unexcused absences can cost a school system
millions of dollars in lost revenue. Society also pays in
escalated costs to business for reeducation and retraining, along
with the costs associated with arrest, prosecution, and
incarceration of truants who commit delinquent acts. This
information comes from the Department
Some communities are
responding to truancy problems by enacting tough measures to keep
kids in class. For instance:
· Truancy has become such a significant problem that some cities
are now passing ordinances allowing police to issue a citation to
either the parent or the truant, which can result in a $500 fine
or 30 days in jail for the parent and suspension of the youth's
license to drive. In addition to fining parents, courts can order
them to attend parenting classes and hold them in contempt of
court if they do not attend. In some cases the court may take a
child away from a parent and make the child a ward of the court.
· More and more cities in the United States are enforcing
curfews in an attempt to reduce truancy and crime, and to
encourage parents to discipline their children. A survey
conducted by the U.S. Conference of Mayors found that 276 of 347
responding cities had a nighttime curfew, and seventy-six had a
daytime curfew as well.
· According to the U.S. Conference of Mayors' survey, 56
percent, or 154, of the surveyed cities have had a youth curfew
for at least 10 years. Officials in half these cities say
juvenile crime has dropped since the curfew was imposed; 11
percent say the number of juvenile crimes has remained steady;
and 10 percent have had an increase in juvenile-related crime.
· Curfews can be expensive for cities, too. Twenty-three
percent, or 61, of the cities that participated in the U.S.
Conference of Mayor's survey said there were increased costs
to enforce curfews. For instance, officials in Chandler, Ariz.,
cited more paperwork, court appearances and time officers spent
dealing with youths. Officials in New Orleans pointed to
increased overtime for police. San Jose, Calif. officials said
curfew enforcement hiked police payroll costs by $1 million.
· In addition to the expense, many parents and youth feel
curfews violate their constitutional rights. Much debate has been
raging around the nation regarding this controversial issue.
Other communities are
working to prevent the problem of truancy before it begins by
offering positive activities that increase students' interest in
school, academic performance and confidence levels. For example:
· After-school programs can help children develop greater
confidence in their academic abilities and a greater interest in
school, both of which have been shown to lead to improved school
· After the Beacon Program in New York City increased youth
access to vocational arenas, therapeutic counseling, and academic
enrichment after school, police reported fewer juvenile felonies
in the community. This information, provided by the
U.S.Department of Education, comes from a 1997 publica- tion
called, "Keeping Schools Open as Community Learning Centers:
Extending Learning in a Safe, Drug- Free Environ ment Before and
· In a 1995 study, high school students who participated in
extracurricular activities were shown to be three times more
likely to score in the top 25 percent on math and reading
assessments than their peers who did not. In North Caro- lina,
high school student athletes had higher grade point averages than
non- ath letes. These facts are from the National Federation of
High School Associations, "The Case for High School
Activities," which was released in 1998.
· The Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program, a cross-age tutoring
program which trains older students to tutor younger students,
has effectively reduced dropout rates.
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