Truancy is any intentional, unjustified, unauthorized, or illegal absence from compulsory education. It is a deliberate absence by a student's own free will and usually does not refer to legitimate excused absences, such as ones related to medical conditions. Truancy is usually explicitly defined in the school's handbook of policies and procedures. Some children whose parents claim to homeschool have also been found truant in the United States. Other terms for truancy include playing hooky (American English), skiving off (British English), and bunking. Attending school but not going to class is called skipping class, cutting class, or, ‘’’flapping’’’ or, more formally, internal truancy. Recent estimates in the United States suggest that approximately 11% of adolescents have skipped school during the past month.
In some schools, truancy may result in not being able to graduate or to receive credit for classes attended, until the time lost to truancy is made up through a combination of detention, fines, or summer school.
Truancy is a frequent subject of popular culture. Ferris Bueller's Day Off is about the title character's (played by Matthew Broderick) day of truancy in Chicago with his girlfriend and best friend. Truancy is also the title of a 2008 novel about a student uprising against a dictatorial educational system.
There are experiences that show that thanks to the incorporation of Successful Educational Actions (SEAs) in schools with high absenteeism they have managed to reduce truancy and thus contribute to the improvement of academic success.
Only with the advent of free education within civilised society can the concept of avoiding such education be born.
For most of human history education was mainly a paid and exclusive regime of the wealthy, but sometimes backed by free education within the religious regime, centred upon the learning of religious text and moral concepts.
Whilst certain towns provided free education to their own inhabitants, the widespread legal obligation for towns and villages to provide free education did not evolve until the late 19th century and was born in such legislation as the Education (Scotland) Act 1872. Over and above the obligation within such legislation for local government to provide school buildings and teachers, there was also a counterpart requirement for the children to actually attend this, and within this the legal concept of truancy is born.
That said, outwith the legal system, most private schools had the concept of punishing pupils for non-attendance. However this was done on a reverse principle: and schools had to get the permission of parents to punish the children ... this was so universally expected and accepted that the formal permission of parents was often forgotten.
Absence is standardly excused for reason of illness.
There are a number of expressions in most languages which refer to truancy. In South Africa, the slang used is bunking, mulling, skipping or jippo. In Jamaica, it is called skulling. In Guyana skulking. In Antigua and Barbuda, it is called skudding. In New Zealand and Australia truancy is called wagging, "jigging", ditching, or skipping school. It is called bunking (off) or skiving or wagging or “kipping” in the United Kingdom, mitching, twagging, "skiving" or on the knock. In Wales, mitching or sagging. In Liverpool, bunking or cutting class, doggin, skiving, playing tickie or puggin. In Scotland, on the hop, bunklng off, mitching, beaking, skiving, doggin it or on the beak. In Ireland, mitching, on the hop, dossing, on the duck or skiving. In the United States and Canada expressions include hooky, playing hooky, ditching, dipping, skipping, cutting class, or simply just cutting. In the city of St. John's, the act of truancy is known amongst youths as pipping off, and truant students are described as being on the pip. In Trinidad and Tobago, it is referred to as breaking biche. In Singapore and Malaysia, it is referred to as fly. In the state of Utah a sluff is a commonly used word referring to a truancy. In Pakistan and India it is referred to as bunking.
In Denmark, some welfare benefits can be confiscated for a period if the child does not attend school. However, not all cities use this approach to keep the children in school. Most cities watch for families who have not returned their children to school after the summer vacation because some groups exiled their children to their ethnic home countries for behavior modification. In the city of Aarhus, 155 children had not turned up one week after the school started. In April 2009, research among 4,000 students showed that more than every third student had been absent during the last 14 days.
In Finland truant pupils usually get detention in comprehensive schools. The police are not involved in truancy control but the teachers of the school monitor the school area and sometimes the nearby areas during recess to avoid unauthorized absence. If the pupil is absent for a long period of time the parents may be fined. The aim of fining is to try to force parents to put their children into school. The child will not be escorted to school, but can be taken away from parents if continued.
In Germany, the parents of a child absent from school without a legitimate excuse are notified by the school. If the parents refuse to send their child to school or are unable to control their child, local child services or social services officers may request the police to escort the child to school, and in extreme cases may petition a court to partially or completely remove child custody from the parents. Parents may also be fined in cases of refusal.
England and Wales
In England and Wales, truancy is a criminal offence for parents if the child concerned is registered at school. Truancy laws do not apply to children educated at home or otherwise under Section 7 of the Act. Since the passage of the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000, parents of persistent truants may be imprisoned for up to three months. In 2002, the first parent was imprisoned under this provision.
Since 1998, a police officer of or above the rank of superintendent may direct that for a specified time in a specified area a police officer may remove a child believed to be absent from a school without authority to that school or to another designated place. However this is not a power of arrest and it is not a power to detain, and does not make truancy a criminal offence. There is a warning given the first time the parents allow the child to commit truancy, but if they allow it more than once, then the parents are given a fine starting from £50. Some charities have highlighted an increasing prevalence of truancy among impoverished girls during menstruation, especially among girls who do not have easy access to sanitary products.
In the United States, truancy regulations are generally enforced by school officials under the context of parental responsibility. New automated calling systems allow the automated notification of parents when a child is not marked present in the computer, and truancy records for many states are available for inspection online. In large schools where law enforcement officers are present, the fine for "playing hooky" can range from $250 to as much as $500. About 12,000 students were ticketed for truancy in 2008 in Los Angeles. Many states provide for the appointment of local truancy officers who have the authority to arrest habitually truant youths and bring them to their parents or to the school they are supposed to attend. Many states also have the power to revoke a student's driver's license or permit. Where it exists, a school truancy officer is often a constable or sheriff, concurrently. The position of a full-time truancy officer is generally viewed as being a relic from the 19th century when mandatory school attendance was relatively new.
Children are required by law to attend school until they reach a certain age, which varies by state (typically 16–18 years), unless an absence is formally excused by a school official or the child has been expelled.
In Israel, Attendance Officers (AO) are key figures helping student cope with difficulties of adjustment in school, which can cause them to drop out of the education system altogether. AOs are employed by the local authority, as authorized by the Minister of Education, and their role is to ensure that the Compulsory Education Law is implemented in educational institutions for all 15 years of compulsory schooling. In recent years, efforts have been made to professionalize and structure the role of attendance officer. A 2016 study of the AO role found there had been a change in the focus of the AOs' work – from concentrating on students who do not regularly attend an educational framework to intervention at an earlier stage with students who are still in a formal educational framework, but are experiencing adjustment difficulties. The data over the period from 2006 to 2016 indicated a decline in the relative percentage of students not in formal education (dropouts) out of all students in the care of AOs, and that most of those in the care of an AO did attend a formal framework. At the end of the period of AO intervention, 38% of the students who were not in an educational framework when the AO began work with them had returned to a formal framework. Among those who had been in a framework at the start of work but were contending with various difficulties, almost 90% were still in the framework at the end of the intervention. Finally, the data noted the multiple difficulties facing AOs working with the Bedouin population and with students in East Jerusalem, as well as the limited resources available to them.
In Poland and the Faroe Islands, the first day of spring (March 21) is an unofficial occasion popular among children, who traditionally play truant on that day. Similarly, students in the United States have Senior Skip Day. The date for skip day varies among different schools. In the Eastern United States, Senior Skip Day is often celebrated on the last Friday before Spring Break, or in some cases, the Monday after prom.
- "Home-school mom charged with allowing truancy". "The Southern". 25 April 2005.
- Maynard, Brandy R.; Vaughn, Michael G.; Nelson, Erik J.; Salas-Wright, Christopher P.; Heyne, David A.; Kremer, Kristen P. (2017-10-01). "Truancy in the United States: Examining temporal trends and correlates by race, age, and gender". Children and Youth Services Review. 81: 188–196. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2017.08.008. ISSN 0190-7409. PMC 5733793. PMID 29269965.
- "Reducing absenteeism and early school leaving. [Social Impact]. INCLUD-ED. Strategies for inclusion and social cohesion from education in Europe (2006-2011). European Union's Sixth Framework Programme (FP6/2006-2012)". SIOR, Social Impact Open Repository.
- Education (Scotland) Act 1872 etc
- Tom Brown's Schooldays
- Det virker at inddrage børnechecken (It works confiscating the child benefit check), by Anette Sørensen, Denmarks Radio, October 25, 2008
- 155 elever er ikke mødt op Archived 2009-01-07 at the Wayback Machine (155 children have not started), by Majken Klintø, aarhus.dk, August 26, 2008
- Børn pjækker mere fra skole, DR News, April 30, 2009
- "Äidille sakkoja lasten oppivelvollisuuden laiminlyömisestä - HS.fi - Kotimaa" (in Finnish). Archived from the original on 23 September 2009. Retrieved 1 February 2011.
- OLG Hamm, Beschluss vom 21. Dezember 2012, Az.: II-2 UF 181/11
- S.7 Education act 1996
- Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000, §72
- "Truancy timeline: 1997-2009". BBC News. 11 February 2009.
- "Jailing parents: What happened next?". BBC News. 12 February 2009.
- "Truancy mother sent to jail again". BBC Newsdate. 23 March 2004.
- "Electronic Records Online". Nationalarchives.gov.uk. Retrieved 2012-01-21.
- Marsh, Sarah (2017-03-17). "Girls from poorer families in England struggle to afford sanitary protection". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-01-30.
- Ehrenreich, Barbara (9 August 2009). "OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR; Is It Now a Crime to Be Poor?". The New York Times. p. 9. Retrieved 1 February 2011.
- Association, Home School Legal Defense. "HSLDA: Homeschooling Advocates since 1983". hslda.org. Retrieved 2019-11-06.
- Ruth Baruj-Kovarsky, Viacheslav Konstantinov, and Dalia Ben-Rabi. Attendance Officers in Israel - Analysis of Data from a Decade of Work with School Dropouts and Disengaged Students (Administrative Files 2005-2015). Jerusalem: Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute (2018).
- "Public Holidays in Poland". Staypoland.com. Retrieved 2012-01-21.
- Dyer, Elisabeth (14 April 2006). "Life's a beach for many students on senior skip day". St. Petersburg times. Retrieved 23 November 2010.