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Truancy and Other Status Offenses
Watch Judge Patricia Koch's full interview on YouTube
The National Standards pay special attention to issues relating to truancy and chronic absenteeism because research has shown that missing school is a significant risk factor for later drug use, delinquency, adult criminality, suicide attempts and employment problems.1 The Standards also acknowledge and support the need for early identification and intervention for truant youth to avoid status offense and/or justice system involvement that may not only harm the young person, but his or her school and community.
The National Standards aim to help education and other service professionals who work with young people who are truant or at risk for being truant by offering a set of ambitious yet implementable standards that are portable, easily understood, and designed to spur and inform state and local practice and policy reform.
CJJ released an Emerging Issues Policy Brief on Addressing Truancy and Other Status Offenses. The brief serves as guidance for education professions and systems.
Education systems should implement responses to truancy that match the reasons youth are absent from school and that aim to avoid court involvement, school suspension or expulsion. Section 2.5 includes a discussion of research supporting the need to keep truant youth out of the court system and offers concrete steps education system professionals can take to identify and address the causes of truancy without justice system involvement, such as contacting the family and following up with a home visit or in-school meeting, making appropriate referrals and developing a plan with the youth and family to resolve the issues. School-based truancy or youth courts, as well as alternative learning environments, are also discussed as possible responses.
“Research indicates that truancy can be reduced by programs and activities designed to improve the overall school environment (and its safety), attach children and their families to the school, and enable schools to respond to the different learning styles and cultures of children.”
National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention
Youth with Disabilities
Youth-serving and school systems should ensure young people don’t enter the status offense system because of learning, mental health, sensory, speech/language or co-occurring disabilities. School professionals should use resources at their disposal through IDEA, Section 504 and/or Medicaid-EPSTD to identify the extent of the disability and provide relevant services to avoid status offense system involvement that may only exacerbate the problems the child and family are experiencing. Section 1.11 provides concrete suggestions for education system professionals, as well as mental health and law enforcement to steer at risk youth with disabilities away from the status offense court system.
Youth-serving and education systems should train professionals who first respond to alleged status offenses, such as truancy, about family and community dynamics and other factors that can cause these behaviors, as well as the availability and role of screenings, assessments and services. See Section 2.3 to learn more.This page was adapted from the National Standards for the Care of Youth Charged with Status Offenses.