Research Paper on Truancy
Truancy is the intentional unauthorized absence from compulsory schooling. It is considered as one of the top ten major problems in the schools in the US today. The problem has become very apparent since the last few years. According to studies, in New York City alone about 150,000 out of 1,000,000 students are absent daily and that the Los Angeles Unified School District has reported that 10% of students are absent each day. This is a serious problem not only because education is a right of every student but truancy leads to crime. Moreover, absenteeism is related to a student’s lack of achievement and low self-esteem. It may also have an effect on his employment potential. Needless to say, truancy should not be taken for granted.
Signs of Truancy
There are several signs that a child is absenting himself from school. One of these signs is when the child does not do his homework at home. Ordinarily, a child does his homework at home and asks his parents to help him with it. When the child stops doing homework then it is a sign that he may not have been going to school. Another sign is the child’s lack of interest in discussing about school to his parents. Normally, the child talks about his experiences at school. When a child refuses to talk about school then it is possible that the child is engaging in unauthorized absences. The child’s friends and the people whom he associates with is also an indicator. At this age the child’s peers exert a strong influence on the child’s behavior, even more than his parents. If a child associates with children who have left school, it is possible that he may also be absenting himself from school. Moreover, the child who wants to hide something would normally want to read the mails ahead of their parents. The child may rush to the post every morning just to read the mails so that he can screen the mails and not let his parents know any report coming from the school. Also, a child having problems with truancy is eager to know the parents whereabouts and the time they will be at home. The purpose of this is to avoid the possibility that they may see each other while the child is in the malls or at home during school hours.
As early as the 1800s, sociologists have seen the strong link between truancy and delinquency (Tom Gavin 1). Researchers have already established that students who drop out of school are more likely to end up in prison. It must be stressed that the records of juvenile delinquents have truancy as the first entry on their arrest records. This does not actually come as a surprise since a child who habitually and intentionally absents himself from school is deprived of all the leaning, knowledge and opportunities he is entitled to. Moreover, when a child skips school he is more likely to associate with juvenile delinquents who will teach him nothing but engaging in drugs and alcohol and joining gangs.
In loco parentis refers to the role of a person other than a parent to act as the child’s parents. As a rule, only the child’s parents have parental authority over the child. Parental authority includes the duty and responsibility to take care of the child and to provide for his welfare and well-being. However, there are cases when institutions such as school, church, and various non-governmental organizations assume the role of a parent by helping them perform their duty and responsibility. The objective is to ensure that the interest of the child is protected. In view of the problem of truancy and its strong link to delinquency, the schools and different organizations are working together to encourage the child to go back to school. Among the truancy programs done by schools in loco parentis are the active monitoring of children found to have truancy problems and constant communication with the child’s parents to address this problem. Counseling services are also provided by the school to assist the child’s parents. If the child’s parents continuously refuse to act, then school administrators may refer the matter to the prosecutor’s office for filing of the appropriate charges against the irresponsible parent. Other social workers may also organize community activities to educate the parents about truancy and about the seriousness of this problem. They may also help in informing the parents on how to detect this problem early, how to talk to their children about this problem and how to encourage their children to go to school.