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Woods explained that risk factors for dropping out of school exists in all life domains (i.e., individual family, school, community, peer relations), and the likelihood of a student dropping out of school increases as these risk factors accumulate (as cited in Christle et al., 2007).
The phenomenon of dropout is caused by a variety of reasons, which must be studied to determine possible solution and prevention. According to Azzam (2007), the dropouts in her study identified five major reasons for leaving school and stated them as the following:
Students were bored with school (47%); had missed school to many days and could not catch up (43%); spent time with people who were not interested in school (42%); had too much freedom and not enough rules in their lives (38%); and were failing (35%). (p. 91).
Financial difficulties is a strong factor for the desertion of school, and even when the student does not want to leave the school he/she has to do it because of the family lack of financial resources. Diyu (2002) found that family financial difficulties are the primary reason for dropping out school. Also, migration by the parents from place to place looking for better job opportunities does not give the children the stability, confidence, they need.
In their study, Morris, Pawlovich, and McCall, found that having several sibling or older siblings factors into the school leaving formula (as cited in Terry, 2008).
Older siblings have to take care of the young ones because the parents cannot afford the payment of the day care.
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A recent study about the effects of dropping out of school on family members (Terry, 2008) revealed the following:
Dolores, Ida, Emily, Gladys and Joanne felt obligated to leave school in order to help recently widowed or divorced parents care for younger children. Dolores, Ida, and Emily quit to stay home with siblings; Gladys and Joanne quit to work full-time so that their mothers could stay home. (p. 31).
Another reason is unsupportive parents. Parents are the children’s first educator, “monkey see monkey do”. Some parents are illiterate and do not see education important, so they do not motivated their kids to go to school. Parental attitude about education is the most influential in our children life, and this can determine the decision of dropping out of school. Amstutz and Sheared (2000) established that the lack of parental support to stay in school ranges from showing uncooperative attitudes to actively encouraging students to quit (as cited on Terry, 2008). Some parents think that because their children could not be promoted due to of their poor study habits, there is not point on going to school. Also, the lack of rules by parents at home allowing them to play video games, watch television, and let them do what ever they want.
Two peer variables have been linked with dropping out of school: “rejection from conventional peers and association with deviant peers” (Vitaro et al., 2001, p.402). Over weight, color of the skin, physical limitations, and sexual orientation are some of the reasons that students get tease for, which can contribute to the absenteeism leading to the dropout of school or in the worst case scenario to suicide. In Terry’s study (2008), she stated the following:
Learners complained of unsatisfactory relationships with the school peers, ranging from emotional discomfort in class to physical abuse in the schoolyard. For example, Martha said that she “hate school” because of the way students reacted to her speech and mobility problems, and Cheryl revealed, “I was overweight, with low self-esteem, and didn’t have many friends.” Helen attributed her interpersonal problem to the language barrier, because she spoke Michif Cree, a French dialect. Some other difficulties were attributed to age-related differences. (pp. 32-33).
Peer relationships are the second most influential in the children’s life. Students at risk seeking attention, comfort, and relief from boredom, leave school to belong to gangs, to play video games, spend time with the boyfriend/girlfriend or to do illicit drugs, which is acceptable within the group they belong to.
Schools with lack of financial resources, is another important issue. This can be linked to lack of motivation from students, poor quality of teacher, etc. Diyu stated in 2002 that:
Tight funding, poor conditions for running schools and few qualified teachers limit students’ enthusiasm for studying. The lack of funding makes difficult to guarantee text book, materials, good staffing and let alone the basics office supplies. This limits teacher’s participation in training courses and they only teach what is in the textbook, so their effectiveness as teacher is poor. (pp. 53-54).
Schools can make a difference on students’ performance where the teachers are highly qualified and the school has good financial resources. Schools with the lack of funding should be level and brought together under a unified system of management, in which schools with better resources help the ones with limited or noting with materials.
Azzam (2007) found out that “most students express regret for having dropped out of school, and said that if they could relive the experience, they would have stayed in school.” (p.91). This is an indication that some actions most be taken to keep students interested, motivated, and along the way adopt some strategies to get parents involve into their children’s education. Interventions like interpersonal relations can be addressed through family and peer group. Terry (2008) believed that schools and families have the duty to ensure that students’ interpersonal needs are being met and stated:
First, students’ families and out of school friends should be welcomed in schools like in public viewing of students artwork. Second, students’ guardians need to learn how to provide academic support by participating in special training sessions. Lastly, students need to learn how to engage positive interaction with school peers by having counseling support dealing with their interpersonal difficulties. (pp. 35-36).