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School truancy is a partciular form of truancy and is a term used to describe any intentional unauthorized absence from compulsory schooling. The term typically refers to absences caused by students on their own free will, and usually does not refer to legitimate "excused" absences, such as ones related to a medical condition. The exact meaning of the term itself is subject to differ from school to school, and is usually explicitly defined in the school's handbook of policies and procedures. Truancy is the term referring to an absence associated with the most brazen student irresponsibility and results in the greatest consequences.

It may also refer to students who attend school but do not go to classes.

Beyond the effect that missed schooling may have on a student's educational attainment, truancy may indicate more deeply embedded problems with the student, the education system, or both. Truancy is commonly associated with juvenile delinquency. In some schools, truancy may result in an ineligibility to graduate or to receive credit for class attended, until the time lost to truancy is made up through a combination of detention, fines, or summer school.

Several studies indicate a high correlation between chronic truancy and poverty.[How to reference and link to summary or text] Truancy may also be prevalent in dysfunctional families or among children placed in the care of local authorities.

Dealing with truancy[]

In the United Kingdom, failure to secure regular school attendance of a registered pupil is a criminal offence for parents. Also, 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. This is commonly known as a "truancy sweep".

In Canada, a police officer who suspects a child of the correct age to be deliberately missing school for no legitimate reason has the authority to take that child to the school he or she is supposed to attend.

In the United States, the fine for truancy can range from $250 to as much as $500. In some cities teenagers found on the streets during school hours are sometimes even handcuffed. About 12,000 students were ticketed for truancy in 2008 in Los Angeles.[1]. 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. It is an office which, where it exists, is often held by a person also a constable or sheriff. However, 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. Truancy regulations today are generally enforced by school officials under the context of parental responsibility. However, new automated calling systems such as Connected allow the automated notification of parents when a child is not marked present in the computer.

In Australia, schools, in most cases, contact and keep a close relationship with local police to combat 'wagging'. Most schools, who have a nearby police station, have police vehicles monitoring the areas around the school grounds who look for truanting students. In most cases the students are returned to the schools. The Australian Government threatened to take action on parents who have truanting students by withdrawing child support payments to any parent whose child is caught multiple times. Recently, schools have started a system whereby if students are not marked as present, the school computers will automatically SMS the parent(s) of the child to notify of their absence. Also, the use of marking present lists at schools has been taken over by that of computers. This way of checking if a student is absent, is a more accurate way to identify if the student is wagging and in what class.

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 can petition a court to partially or completely remove child custody from the parents. Parents may also be fined in cases of refusal.

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 [2]. 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 [3]. April 2009 a research among 4,000 students showed that more than every third student had been absent during the last 14 days [4].

In Finland a truant pupil gets usually detention in comprehensive school. The police isn't involved in truancy controlling but the teachers of the school monitor the school area and sometimes the nearby areas during recess to avoid unauthorized leaving from the school area. If the pupil is absent for a long period of time the parents can be fined. [5] Anyway, fining is the only way to force parents to put their children into school. The child will not be escorted to school or taken from parents.

See also[]


  1. The New York Times: Is It Now a Crime to Be Poor?
  2. Det virker at inddrage børnechecken (It works confiscating the child benefit check), by Anette Sørensen, Denmarks Radio, October 25 2008
  3. 155 elever er ikke mødt op (155 children have not started), by Majken Klintø,, August 26 2008
  4. Børn pjækker mere fra skole, DR News, April 30, 2009
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