|Truancy Prevention INTRODUCTION |
Truancy has been referred to as a "first step to a lifetime of problems" for youth (Garry, 1996). Truant students have a higher risk than nontruant students of involvement in drug and alcohol use, violence, and gang activity (U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Justice, 1996). Police departments across the nation report that many students who are not in school during regular hours are committing crimes, including vandalism, shoplifting, and graffiti. According to a 1996 report, 44 percent of violent juvenile crime occurred between 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. in San Diego, Calif., (U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Justice). Thus, student nonattendance is a problem that extends much further than the school. Truancy affects the student, the family, and the overall community (ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational Management and Office of Educational Research and Improvement, 1999). Examination of the truancy problem requires investigation into the possible reasons that students may choose to engage in truant behavior. Statistics have shown that a student's decision to skip or drop out of school might be the product of many factors, including family problems, drug and alcohol abuse, illiteracy, and teenage pregnancy (Cantelon and LeBoeuf, 1997). According to the U.S. Department of Education, when young people start skipping school, they are telling their parents, their school, and the community at large that they are in trouble and need our help if they are to keep moving forward in life (U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Justice, 1996).