Friday, 13 February 2009

Will forcing kids to stay at school until 17 jack up truancy rates?

The always excellent Bystander provided a link today to an article at the BBC on how parents of truant children in the UK are being sent to prison on average every 2 weeks.

The BBC provides the following fast facts:

  • 63,000 pupils truant each day
  • Most truants are girls, peak ages 15-16
  • 266,000 persistent truants in spring 2008
  • 10,400 prosecutions in 2007
  • Unauthorised absences higher now than in 1997
Notice that the peak age for truants is 15-16. My assumption is that you don't get a lot of 17 year old truants, because they simply don't enrol if they don't want to go at that age.

I have no idea what it is like in Australia, but are we kidding ourselves when the government wants to raise the leaving age to 17? Is there any point in forcing a bunch of 15 and 16 year old kids, who don't want to be in school, to enrol? If their parents have little control over them, they just won't go - they'll go truant all day.

I'll be very interested to see whether a year after the new laws come in, whether our truancy rate has exploded or not. Just because a kid is enrolled in school, doesn't mean they will actually attend.

The sad thing is, these kids don't necessarily want to get out of school because they have a job to go to. They want to get out in order to do nothing.

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