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Parents' Guide to Truancy

NCJ Number
Date Published
36 pages
This guide provides parents/guardians with strategies for preventing and intervening to reduce their children’s incidences of truancy.
“Truancy” is defined as “when a child misses school or class without an excuse from his or her parent/guardian, leaves school without the permission of the teacher or principal, or is consistently late for school.” Motivations or causes for truancy include oversleeping, hanging out with truant friends, rebellion, health problems, adverse school environment, living situations, academic failure, or alcohol/drug use. Parents’ role in addressing truancy involves being familiar with truancy laws and school guidelines for attendance, as well as monitoring children’s behavior and class preparation at home. Specific parental actions that can help prevent a child’s truancy are to set and explain boundaries regarding school attendance as a critical factor in determining the child’s future, showing an interest in the child’s school work and school friends, supervising the child‘s use of time in the evenings and on school mornings, and planning family activities and doctor appointments around school hours. Signs that intervention is needed to reduce truancy are unhappiness at school, a lack of school friends, or friends uninterested in academic achievement. Remedial actions include working with teachers and school administrators in the development of ways to improve or create school social bonding and academic performance, provide incentives/rewards for school attendance/performance, set consequences for truancy and bad behavior at school, and consult with other parents who have experienced similar negative behaviors from their children. It is also important to consult with the child about his/her feelings regarding school experiences and how changes and improvements can be made. The guide suggests specific ways parents can work with school personnel and programs in order to benefit their children’s constructive participation in school academic, social, and developmental programs. Resource suggestions are listed.

Date Published: January 1, 2008