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Truancy: First Step to a Lifetime of Problems

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 1996
8 pages
This bulletin describes seven promising community programs that are reducing truancy and juvenile delinquency by enlisting and coordinating a broad array of local resources.
Truancy is a concern for communities, because students who miss school are often unable to develop interpersonal relationships or gain the knowledge and skills they will need for future employment. Frequent absence affects school performance and can lead to delinquent behavior. A Department of Justice study found that students with low reading achievement show delinquent behavior more often than students with higher reading scores. Many chronic truants are also likely to drop out of school. Positive examples, however, can protect youth either by reducing the impact of risks or by changing the way they respond to risk factors. Examples of protective factors include positive adult and peer relationships, healthy beliefs, and clear standards of behavior. Truancy prevention and intervention efforts protect youth from risk factors and help reduce juvenile delinquency and other related problems. The programs described are located in Arizona, California, Kansas, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. These programs are achieving good results through innovative approaches that recognize that parents must be involved and held responsible for their children's school attendance. They also provide intensive monitoring, counseling, and other family-strengthening services to truants and their families. Each program has developed a coordinated response that takes advantage of resources in their communities. One uses probation officers to intervene with students, and another depends on the county attorney. Several have targeted their efforts at middle school students, and others are working with children as young as 5 years old. 14 resources and 10 notes

Date Published: October 1, 1996