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What to do if your Child is Playing Truant

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 20 Oct 2015 | comments*Discuss
 
Child School Safety Truant Safe Teachers

A child may play truant for a variety of reasons, but parents must remember that there is never a good reason for their child to miss out on their education. Skipping school means that a child will fall behind in class, risk their own safety by being somewhere unsupervised, neglect friendships with kids their own age and may well fall into activities that lead to greater trouble.

In order to stop truancy before it gets out of hand, parents should talk to their children to find out what is the problem at school. Discussing the same issue with the child's teachers, agreeing to a support plan or even investigating other schools should all help a child feel more welcome in the classroom and more inclined to return to school.

Talk to your Child

A lot of people assume that children who play truant are lazy, uninterested in school or inclined towards antisocial behaviour. This may be the case for some children, but not every child who plays truant does so because they are uninterested in school or seduced by a life of less restrictions on the streets. Some children play truant because they can not cope with the schoolwork but won't ask for help, some play truant because they are Being Bullied and some play truant because they have an emotional or behavioural disorder that has yet to be diagnosed but makes the classroom a difficult environment.

Some parents may even contribute to truancy without even knowing it, such as by taking children out of class to go on holiday or encouraging children to take duvet days when they feel over- or under-whelmed by what is going on at school. Once a parent has established why a child prefers to play truant, then actions can be taken to help sort out the situation.

Talk to the Teachers

When a parent has some idea of why their child does not enjoy school, it is time to talk to the child's teachers about it. A teacher may have no idea what is going on with the child, or a teacher may have a very different idea of what affects the child at school. Once parents and teachers are on the same page about a child's truancy they can begin to pinpoint how to offer the child extra support and bring him or her back to school.

Agree to a Support Plan

A support plan must be put into action as quickly as possible for a child playing truant. Once truancy becomes an established routine it becomes less likely that a child will give it up for good. If it is found out that a child is playing truant to stay safe from bullies, then this issue must be confronted.

If it is found that a child is playing truant because (s)he can't cope with the class work, then extra academic support or testing for learning disorders may be in order. If it is found that a child is playing truant because (s)he can not cope with the classroom, then testing for emotional and/or behavioural disorders may be important. As soon as a parent and teacher can agree on a course of action it should be implemented so that the child can return to school feeling safe and supported.

Investigate Other Schools

Some parents may find that a school is unwilling to provide extra support for a student, particularly if (s)he had a history of disruptive or antisocial behaviour before the truancy began. Some parents may also find that a school is willing to provide support, but that the facilities or activities that they can offer is not what a child needs.

If it looks as though a child may begin to play truant again, parents should keep the child's safety foremost in their mind. Investigating another school may be one way to deal with the child's issues at school while investigating activities requiring commitment and discipline may help a child keep more order in his or her life. While these actions may seem extreme, remember that they are no more extreme than a child self-sacrificing his or her education because they do not feel comfortable at their present school.

When a child plays truant a parent must recognise the situation and regard it as a call for help. By discussing truancy with the child and his or her teacher, supplying the extra supports that a child may need and investigating new schools to better serve the child parents can address the truancy immediately, and help to resolve it before playing truant becomes a life-long habit.

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RevSDicks - Your Question:
My son has autism. I knew Danny was different as early as 18 months old. I’d take him to play with other children and he would just run around in a circle and not play like the others. When he was two and a half, he went on a merry-go-round and did not wave like the other children. It was as if he had become part of the merry-go-round. Danny’s speech was different; it developed normally in terms of vocabulary but sounded unusual, and he received speech therapy. School was just so awful for him. He was bullied for years which lead to him skipping school occasionally. He was assessed as "above average intelligence but below average functioning" at school. A friend gave me some information about dyspraxia and dyslexia, which sounded very much like Danny (who was later diagnosed with both). A professional mentioned ADHD but when I mentioned these things to they school, they said, "we think he's autistic." At senior school things got worse for Danny. He was bullied and received physical injuries. By the time he turned 13, he was talking about taking his own life, this scared me and my Husband into keeping him off of school in order to keep a close eye on him.Please help.

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. - it must be a difficult situation for you as parents. Have you spoken with the school about this? As I'm sure you know, if your son is attending a special needs school, then there will be procedures in place to make sure he has the best level of dedicated care from staff who will respond directly to his needs. A specialist school will employ staff who are trained to get the best out of him and to prepare him for later life and to encourage him to achieve his full potential. If, at any stage, you are not happy with the school or your son's progress, talk to his school who will be happy to discuss and attempt to resolve your worries. If you cannot agree with the LEA and you believe that a different decision is needed, you have a right to appeal to the Special Educational Needs Tribunal, dependent upon what it is you actually want for you son (which you don't say). While it may seem that keeping your son at home is in his best interests, you will also have to take onboard his future needs that you may not always be able to supply. Therefore, as difficult as it may be, by trying to resolve these issues and by sending him to school now, it is the best time to help him attain some form of independence that can assist him in his adult life.
SafeKids - 21-Oct-15 @ 1:01 PM
waftey - Your Question:
I have a daughter that is currently attending Harmony School of Excellence in Austin. I had to let my daughter go live with her father because I could not fight him in a court of law as I do not have the money to Hire a lawyer. My daughter has missed in excess of 9 or 10 days just this semester alone. My ex-husband keeps going to school and smoothing over her excessive absences. I know at one point she had a stomach virus and that doctor's note should be on file. Most recently she missed school because her jacket was not dry and she would not wear an alternative jacket. When I called her and told her that I would get her more of the same jackets. She told be she did not feel safe in any other j Jacket. I told her she has to go to schoolso we need to address this problem. She hung up on me. My ex-husband wants to excuse her behavior as emotional problems, but is doing nothing assertively to handle her continue truancy. Pleas help. I believe my daughter has lack of respect for all adult figures in in authority, but it is clear that I am better able to get her to school and make her do enough work to pass all Classes. Please help and tell me what I can do. Thank You.

Our Response:
I am afraid we cannot answer your question specifically as we are a UK-based site, dealing with UK-based laws where the policy only allows a child to miss school if either: they’re too ill to go in, or they have advance permission from the school to be absent. If your child is continually absent for no good reason, then the school will discuss the child's attendance problems, and set out a plan to improve it. If the plan/contract is not adhered to, the parent can be prosecuted. You would have to research whether your daughter's school may have a similar attendence policy. I hope this helps.
SafeKids - 21-Oct-15 @ 10:25 AM
My son has autism. I knew Danny was different as early as 18 months old. I’d take him to play with other children and he would just run around in a circle and not play like the others. When he was two and a half, he went on a merry-go-round and did not wave like the other children. It was as if he had become part of the merry-go-round. Danny’s speech was different; it developed normally in terms of vocabulary but sounded unusual, and he received speech therapy. School was just so awful for him. He was bullied for years which lead to him skipping school occasionally . He was assessed as "above average intelligence but below average functioning" at school. A friend gave me some information about dyspraxia and dyslexia, which sounded very much like Danny (who was later diagnosed with both). A professional mentioned ADHD but when I mentioned these things to they school, they said, "we think he's autistic." At senior school things got worse for Danny. He was bullied and received physical injuries. By the time he turned 13, he was talking about taking his own life, this scared me and my Husband into keeping him off of school in order to keep a close eye on him. Please help.
RevSDicks - 20-Oct-15 @ 2:20 PM
I have a daughter that is currently attending Harmony School of Excellence in Austin. I had to let my daughter go live with her father because I could not fight him in a court of law as I do not have the money to Hire a lawyer. My daughter has missed in excess of 9 or 10 days just this semester alone. My ex-husband keeps going to school and smoothing over her excessive absences. I know at one point she had a stomach virus and that doctor's note should be on file . Most recently she missed school because her jacket was not dry and she would not wear an alternative jacket. When I called her and told her that I would get her more of the same jackets. She told be she did not feel safe in any other j Jacket. I told her she has to go to schoolso we need to address this problem. She hung up on me. My ex-husband wants to excuse her behavior as emotional problems, but is doing nothing assertively to handle her continue truancy. Pleas help. I believe my daughter has lack of respect for all adult figures in in authority, but it is clear that I am better able to get her to school and make her do enough work to pass all Classes. Please help and tell me what I can do. Thank You.
waftey - 20-Oct-15 @ 8:46 AM
I have a daughter that is currently attending Harmony School of Excellence in Austin. I had to let my daughter go live with her father because I could not fight him in a court of law as I do not have the money to Hire a lawyer. My daughter has missed in excess of 9 or 10 days just this semester alone. My ex-husband keeps going to school and smoothing over her excessive absences. I know at one point she had a stomach virus and that doctor's note should be on file . Most recently she missed school because her jacket was not dry and she would not wear an alternative jacket. When I called her and told her that I would get her more of the same jackets. She told be she did not feel safe in any other j Jacket. I told her she has to go to schoolso we need to address this problem. She hung up on me. My ex-husband wants to excuse her behavior as emotional problems, but is doing nothing assertively to handle her continue truancy. Pleas help. I believe my daughter has lack of respect for all adult figures in in authority, but it is clear that I am better able to get her to school and make her do enough work to pass all Classes. Please help and tell me what I can do. Thank You.
Bevy - 4-Mar-12 @ 6:21 PM
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