The first stop on the path to delinquency for most kids is truancy. Parents should act quickly to address this issue when a child starts skipping school. Our office works closely with the school districts to identify and deal with these kids.
What is a Truancy?
Truancy is the accumulation of 3 consecutive unexcused absences – or a total of 5 unexcused absences – by a child 16 years or younger. A habitually truant juvenile aged 12 and older, who has not complied with an intervention plan developed by the school and has two additional unexcused absences. Chronic truancy is defined as a habitual truant juvenile who has not complied with a court order and has additional unexcused absences.
What are the consequences of truancy?
Truant juveniles will receive consequences from school that may include detentions and suspensions. Habitually truant juveniles may be allowed to participate in the Truancy Alternative Program (TAP) to address truancy or they may be brought to court and placed under a School Attendance Order and required to attend school and any other programs or counseling deemed appropriate by the court. Juveniles who continue to be truant while in the TAP program will be brought to court and placed under a School Attendance Order and required to attend school and any other programs or counseling deemed appropriate by the court. Once under a School Attendance Order, if juveniles continue to miss school, they will become chronically truant juveniles and be brought back to court for contempt of court and sentenced by a family court judge.
Statistics on Truancy
Two-thirds of male juveniles arrested while truants tested positive for drug use. According to one confidential survey, nearly 1 in ten 15-year-olds were truant at least once weekly.
During a recent sample period in Miami, more than 71% of 13 to 16-year-olds prosecuted for criminal violations had been truant.
In Minneapolis, daytime crime dropped 68 percent after police began citing truant students. In San Diego, 44 percent of violent juvenile crime occurs between 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Truancy has been linked in some studies to specific types of serious juvenile delinquent activities such as substance abuse, gang involvement, burglary, auto theft, and vandalism. Additional studies reveal that early truant juveniles frequently experience severe behavioral problems, commit more violent crimes, and suffer higher incarceration rates than non-truant juveniles.
Parents must do everything they can to ensure their child attends school on time every day. Parents must stay in contact with the child’s school so that parents are aware of any problems. Parents are also encouraged to talk to their children each day about school.