Truancy Essay

This essay has a total of 2540 words and 9 pages.


Truancy





Absenteeism is a common problem encountered by teachers and others who work in the field
of education. There are many reasons why some children fall into a pattern of repeated
absence from school. In a number of cases, willful absence can be traced to an alienation
from schooling due to poor achievement, family circumstances or behavioral causes. In some
cases, parents or children simply defy the requirement to participate. This area is one in
which the need for partnership between school and family is greatest. While many schools
provide successful alternative programs or absenteeism intervention strategies, there will
be cases where, despite the best efforts of schools and parents, the children stay away.
It is clear that any unauthorized absence is of concern because of the valuable
educational time which is lost and because the absence of some children is associated with
inappropriate behavior in the community. Different types of absenteeism will be discussed
during this essay but the main focus will be directed at truancy in which the causes and
remedies will be evaluated. The different types of absenteeism is truancy, exclusion,
school closure, school phobia or other absences due to illness or bad behavior (teachers
sending pupils out of class due to poor behavior). Although children who are sent outside
the class are not entirely absent from the school, this can be identified as absence as
they are not participating in class. It seems that none of the various Education Acts
defines truancy and nor is this lack supplied the case laws. Nor indeed have the various
researchers agreed a definition. Must every child who is absent from school for whatever
be classified as a truant? This is the opinion of Reynolds and Murgatroyed (1977 –
cited in Galloway, 1985). The definition of truancy can be narrowed down by suggesting
that a child who plays truant is absent from school without leave, so excluding those
children who are certified or accepted as too ill to attend. This still includes those
children who are absent with leave given by their parents or who are actually kept at home
by their parents (Galloway (1982)). The definition of truancy can also be narrowed by
Tyerman (1968), who reserves the term for children who are absent from school purely on
their own initiative (Tyerman This is the definition adopted by Galloway (1985). However,
Hersov (1977) goes still further dividing from truants, “school phobics” and
school refusers, many of whom depending on how they are in turn defined will be absent on
their own initiative. Since the term has been given different meanings by different
writers, the literature cannot be regarded as dealing with an homogeneous subject.
Conclusions reached in one study of truants cannot automatically be regarded as supported
or disputed by conclusions reached in another. It is clear that care must first be taken
to ensure that the same or at least a similar definition has been given to truancy. There
is a large body of literature, going back at least into the last century seeking to
explain truancy in terms of failings among children and their families (eg Kline, 1989;
Healy, 1915). In the 1920’s, Burt (Tyerman, 1968) elaborated the first concept of
“school phobia” by describing how some children stayed away from schools that
had been used by them and their parents as air raid shelters during the great war. They
associated school with fear of death and became “neurotic” when compelled to
go there. During the 1930’s, there were the psychoanalytic theories of Broadwin
(Tyerman, 1968), relating truancy to various complexes. These earlier theories were not
long accepted, if at all. Broadwin can be criticised for having reasoned from premises
that were by no means certain to conclusions that he made little attempt to verify by
empirical research. Burt’s earliest concept of school phobia could not have lasted
beyond the middle 1920’s, and may have been an attempt less to explain truancy than
to attract larger government funding for it’s treatments through the use of
fashionable semi – medical terms. Even so, the tradition was set. Since then, many
researchers have devoted themselves to discovering what is wrong with the personalities or
backgrounds or both of those children who play truant. It is clear that school phobia was
observed as being very different from truancy. It was accepted that the family background
of a truant is believed to be equally unfortunate. They are said to come predominantly
from poor families, where the father, if actually present and working has a job with low
earnings and low status and low security (Tyerman, 1968, Farrington, 1980 ; Reid, 1986).
They live usually in the inner cities, in bad and overcrowded properties (Tyerman, 1968;
Galloway, 1980). There is a tendency for truancy their parents not to care about
functuality or attendance or homework. Other factors that can lead to truancy is based on
unfavorable external circumstances where the educational pressures have been too high for
a dull child or where the child’s own expectations are too high and they feel that
they are not learning anything at school (Reid, 1986). Whether as by the teachers
interviewed by Farrington (1980) we regard truants in a moralistic light, or as the
pitiable victims of circumstances, the conclusions reached by this line of research are
straight forward. If children play truant, it is because they are for various reasons
unable to cope with school. Truancy is their problem, and any attempt to stop them from
playing truant must be concerned with readjusting them. However, this whole line research
has been challenged. Carroll et al (1977), looking at schools in South Wales, doubt if
children or their backgrounds can be the sole or even the principle cause of truancy.
Reynolds and Murgatroyed (1977) are careful to show that the schools served a relatively
homogeneous community with very small differences in the social class composition of the
people who live in the catchment areas of the different schools. Yet the study finds that
patterns of deviancy and attendance vary greatly between different schools within this
homogeneous catchment area. The suggestion is that the schools themselves play at least
some parts in causing these variable rates. Rutter (1979), investigating 12 Inner London
schools reach much the same conclusion. This research has been questioned. Galloway (1985)
draws attention to the small numbers of pupils examined in the Carroll study ranging
between 17 and 60. His main objection though is that there may have been a significant
heterogeneity in the social backgrounds of the children despite the care taken to show
their homogeneity. He concedes that there may be some truth in the results but stresses
what he believes are the methodological difficulties in demonstrating the differences
between schools are due to factors within the schools and not to factors in their
catchment areas. “Another reason, though why such research is often questioned
indeed why it forms so small a part of the total of the research into truancy is that it
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