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Model Programs Guide Literature Review: Truancy Prevention

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2010
9 pages
Based on a literature review, this paper on truancy prevention reviews the general definition of truancy and variations in States' laws, its detrimental impact on those involved, types of programs intended to prevent it, and evaluation findings on the effectiveness of these programs.
"Habitual truancy" is defined as "unexcused absences from school by a minor that exceed the number of such absences allowed under State law." Each State has its own school-attendance laws. They generally specify the age at which a child must begin school, the age at which a person can legally drop out of school, and the number of unexcused absences that constitute truancy. Although truancy is widely acknowledged to be a nationwide problem, data collection and reporting issues at the school, local, and State levels impede determination of the full extent of the problem. Research has found that truancy is related to delinquency, substance use and abuse, dropping out of high school, suicidal thoughts and attempts, and early sexual intercourse. Preventing truancy not only reduces these adverse impacts on youth, but also reduces the public cost of providing services to address the problems linked to truancy. This paper lists risk factors for truancy under the following domains: school, family and community, and individual student. Some warning signs and self-reported reasons for truancy are also outlined. The review of truancy prevention and intervention programs notes the following key elements: parental involvement, sanctions or consequences for truancy, incentives for attendance, ongoing school-based programs, and involvement of community resources. Intervention efforts include court alternatives, mentoring programs, law enforcement participation, an increase in parental involvement, and truancy awareness campaigns. Evaluations of truancy prevention and intervention programs have shown them to be effective in preventing or reducing truancy. 34 references

Date Published: December 1, 2010