Many jurisdictions have policies and regulations intended to tackle the problematic issue of truancy. Societies tend to have children who are unwilling to attend school through continued absenteeism. This challenge is common among high, elementary, and middle school learners. While the law does not identify truancy as a criminal act, American states have law enforcement mechanisms and court procedures intended to deal with it. Relying on ethical principles to justify the existence of truancy laws, governments understand that forcing children to receive an education helps fight poverty, crime, juvenile delinquency, and social challenges.
Justification of Truancy Laws
Past researchers have acknowledged that truancy is a unique problem many schools and communities face. This malpractice is linked to numerous social issues, such as poor performance in class and loss of school-based resources. Most of the institutions with an increasing number of truants are characterized by underfunding since finances are disbursed based on Average Daily Attendance (ADA) percentages (Henry & Yelkpieri, 2017). According to Lasky-Fink et al. (2021), a child’s decision to miss school tends to signal an underlying problem that could have detrimental impacts on his or her future life. Some analysts have identified school-based experiences as potential factors behind prolonged absenteeism, such as complex school work, bullying, or abuse. Additionally, stress arising from the domestic setting could have a significant contribution to child truancy.
The state can rely on various arguments and facts to justify implementing and applying truancy laws. First, Henry and Yelkpieri (2017) observe that chronic truancy is linked to poor academic outcomes or performance. The affected individual will find it hard to catch up with the other learners the moment he resumes his or her learning process. Second, communities with higher rates of truancy tend to be associated with a number of social ills, including increasing poverty levels, underemployment, and early pregnancies. Most of the affected children find it hard to focus on or pursue their social and economic goals. Some scholars have gone further to indicate that most of the problems arising from truancy could trigger criminal activities and insecurity.
In various states across the United States, the implemented codes define truants as learners who remain absent from learning activities for three or more days in a school calendar year without a genuine reason. Such policies identify truancy as a status offense since individuals between 6 and 18 must be in school. The consideration of these issues has led to additional incentives intended to help truants. Some of these measures include the establishment of truancy centers, parental involvement, and continuous counseling (Reyes, 2020). Additionally, truancy laws permit states to find and fine parents whose children quit school. These strategies are essential since they can help reduce cases of juvenile criminal acts and improve the welfare of the targeted communities.
Based on these arguments, it is agreeable that any government will be willing to force children to receive an education. Specifically, such learners would commit status offenses for not attending school. Education becomes a necessary social function that allows young individuals to get the necessary skills and abilities that can guide them to become responsible adults. Without the presence of such laws, more children would be unwilling to continue learning, thereby increasing their chances of engaging in delinquency (Maynard et al., 2017). Communities lacking proper mechanisms to deal with truants tend to be at risk of having more criminal acts, security concerns, and a wide range of social ills. States should, therefore, focus on these issues and institute proper policies that are intended to force underage children to attend school.
In most cases, parents have unique rights that dictate the way they raise up and empower their children. However, such liberties do not include choosing whether to school a child or not. The existence of truancy laws compels parents and guardians to be involved in the upbringing of their children and ensure that they attend school from the age of 6. Due to their statuses, such individuals need to enroll in schools and receive age-specific instructions (Mahmud et al., 2017). Educators in learning institutions need to monitor and identify students who might be truanting and inform their parents in a timely manner. This effort is necessary since it helps the involved stakeholders to implement the necessary measures and help the truanting child. Such participants will also find identifying the relevant support mechanisms and resources to help the affected individual easier.
Several reasons exist to explain why it is not a parent’s right to determine whether their child receives education. For instance, truancy laws put in place compel parents to be part of programs designed to help truants improve their school attendance and social behaviors. The efforts work synergistically to allow the beneficiaries to receive timely resources and personalized support (Lasky-Fink et al., 2021). Courts rely on such policies to improve supervisory mechanisms and ensure that the identified child receives proper education. Parents who fail to comply with the instituted regulations can result in heavy fines. In extreme cases, those who fail to support and help their children to engage in truancy can get jail sentences. These facts explain why guardians and parents must be aware of their rights and the implemented truancy laws.
The nature and intent of truancy laws cannot be studied as a restriction on free movement. The status of children based on their age makes them vulnerable and incapable of make appropriate decisions. The promoted social policies are intended to guide such individuals and ensure that they attend school to gain the relevant skills. Past researches have supported the notion that education attainment is linked to reduced social challenges or ills (Mazerolle et al., 2020). While learners below the age of 18 could be permitted to have freedom of movement and make their personal decisions, such a move can trigger additional social problems. Some of the possible ones include poor economic performance, increased crime rates, and lack of opportunities.
Truancy laws could be studied as a necessary restriction of children’s rights and freedom of movement from and ethical viewpoint. For instance, utilitarian theorists support actions that have the potential to maximize happiness for the greatest number of people (Ramberg et al., 2018). The move to deal with truants and fine irresponsible parents is plausible since it sets the stage for supporting the development of successful communities. Failure to help a truant could worsen the situation for him or her and eventually become unsuccessful as an adult. The ethical challenges associated with truancy could be more detrimental to the wider society or even the country, such as higher crime rates, juvenile delinquency, and citizen’s inability to record upward social mobility. Such laws also help learners acquire basic education and competencies to help them in their future lives.
Experts and analysts remain divided regarding whether public education and truancy laws should have limits. However, the most plausible argument is for the promoted state codes to provide room for allowing learners to access adequate education depending on their personal needs and experiences. For example, governments can consider the potential role of private schools and how they can absorb individuals who might be truanting simply because they are in public learning insinuations. Unfortunately, a number of limits exist in different states across the country. A good example is that Americans do not treat truancy as a social crime. Another limit is that children between 6 and 18 years need to attend school (Hayes & Bulat, 2017). Truancy laws also have specific reason whereby absenteeism could be permitted, such as sickness and death of a close relative or family member.
The implementation of the outlined limits is necessary since it allows states and stakeholders to address the challenge of truancy from an informed perspective. Such limits also compel parents to remain committed and involved in their children’s education (Henry & Yelkpieri, 2017). However, some skeptics believe that some of the existing limits need to be revised in an effort to deliver positive results by encouraging more parents to be involved. Such measures can help support the learning process for more students and eventually make more communities successful.
The above discussion has presented concrete reasons to support the promotion of truancy laws. From an ethical perspective, governments need to compel learners between 6 and 18 years to receive mandatory education. Such a move is beneficial to the wider society since it helps tackle a wide range of social problems, including juvenile delinquency, crime, and poverty. While the implemented limits are necessary, legal experts and stakeholders can review them to ensure that more learners receive an education without coercion while ensuring that more parents are willing to be part of the process.
Hayes, A. M., & Bulat, J. (2017). Disabilities inclusive education systems and policies guide for low- and middle-income countries. RTI Press.
Henry, G., & Yelkpieri, D. (2017). Truancy and its influence on students’ learning in Dormaa Senior High School. Asian Journal of Education and Training, 3(1), 43-52.
Lasky-Fink, J., Robinson, C. D., Chang, H. N., & Rogers, T. (2021). Using behavioral insights to improve school administrative communications: The case of truancy notifications. Educational Researcher, 20(10), 1-9.
Mahmud, N. A., Awaluddin, S. M., Yoep, N., & Hasani, W. S. R. (2019). Association of truancy and health risk behaviours among school-going adolescents in Malaysia. Open Journal of Social Sciences 7(7), 228-237.
Maynard, B. R., Vaughn, M. G., Nelson, E. J., Salas-Wright, C. P., Heyne, D. A., & Kremer, K. P. (2017). Truancy in the United States: Examining temporal trends and correlates by race, age, and gender. Child Youth Services Review, 81(C), 188-196.
Mazerolle, L., Bennett, S., & Cardwell, S. M. (2020). A police partnership targeting truancy: Study protocol for a cluster randomised controlled trial. Cambridge Journal of Evidence-Based Policing, 4(3), 134-159.
Ramberg, J., Låftman, S. B., Fransson, E., & Modin, B. (2018). School effectiveness and truancy: A multilevel study of upper secondary schools in Stockholm. International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, 24(2), 185-198.
Reyes, A. (2020). Compulsory school attendance: The new American crime. Education Sciences, 10(3), 75-102.