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Truancy: Not Just Kids' Stuff Anymore

NCJ Number
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Volume: 66 Issue: 3 Dated: (March 1997) Pages: 8-14
T Gavin
Date Published
7 pages
Because St. Petersburg, Florida, experienced a dramatic increase in residential burglaries and determined that juveniles constituted a significant number of burglary arrests, the police department began to explore the relationship between truancy and juvenile delinquency.
The St. Petersburg Police Department decided to implement a truancy interdiction program, with the goal of involving parents to help keep young people in school and to reduce the opportunity for getting into trouble. When developing the truancy interdiction program, police personnel analyzed existing efforts in various communities in order to craft an approach that met the specific needs of St. Petersburg. Truancy interdiction involves two separate functions, picking up truants and returning them to school. A centralized truancy center has been established in St. Petersburg. This center is staffed by a receiving officer or juvenile detective who contacts the school and the parents of truants brought in by patrol officers. Having a record of student attendance histories helps the receiving officer discuss the issue of truancy with parents when they pick up their children. The success of the truancy interdiction effort rests partially with the assertive posture of the receiving officer in dealing with parents. While parents are enroute to the truancy center, the receiving officer interviews children about their truancy and counsels them about the importance of education. When parents arrive at the truancy center, the receiving officer briefs them on where and why the police picked up their children. Guidelines on the implementation of truancy interdiction programs are offered that focus on changing restrictive statutes, working with school districts, and working with other agencies. 9 endnotes, 2 photographs, and 1 figure