According to one Caribbean historian, Carl Campbell (1992), schools reflect the societies that create them. The 21st century has presented many challenges. While on the one hand we are faced with rapidly improving technology, we are also faced with global environmental, health and economic crises such as we have never experienced before. We are also witnessing the widespread collapse of societal institutions like the family, judiciary and even the religious systems. Our societies seem to be breeding a new level of violence and chaos. It is against this background, that schools must now formulate policies to keep much of this violence and chaos from invading the classrooms. Instead of students being lured away from constructive school activities to engage in truant behaviors, the schools must become safe havens where learning and creativity can be nurtured.
Wikipedia defines truancy as intentional, unauthorized absence from compulsory schooling. Truancy does not refer to legitimate ‘excused’ absences such as ones related to medical conditions. Barbara Pytel (2007) in her article on Student Truancy cites truancy statistics for three districts in the US, New York, Los Angeles and Pittsburg as 15%, 10% and 12% of students respectively were gone per day. While these appear to be relatively small numbers one child is one too many. For some of these truants this is the beginning of a life of crime and other risky behaviors with dangerous long term consequences. Pytel (2007) further identified a number of policies that have been used to get a handle on the issue. They include alternative schools, truancy officers, fining parents and loss of welfare benefits. These have not met much success.
A Press Releas...
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...nited States department of health and human services. (n.d.). Promoting school safety, preventing youth violence and encouraging learning. Retrieved November 13, 2009, from http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/1999pres/19991015.html
Pytel, B. (2007, April 27). School uniforms popular | Suite101.com. Suite101.com: Online Magazine and Writers' Network. Retrieved November 15, 2009, from http://www.suite101.com/blog/pytel/school_uniforms_popular
School uniforms, dress codes, and book bags: School safety and security. (n.d.). School safety and school security experts: National school safety and security services. Retrieved November 15, 2009, from http://www.schoolsecurity.org/resources/uniforms.html
Truancy. (2009, December 5). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved December 8, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special:Cite&page=Truancy&id=329828168
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