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Should parents be held legally responsible for thier truant children?
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Cutting Classes: Cutting School

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 Education Statistics.

   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 use.
    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 Prevention.
    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 of Justice.
   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 attendance.
    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 After School."
    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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