Teen life is tough. School is “boring” and teens gripe about the daily school grind. While they may rather stay in bed all day, Florida law requires regular school attendance. Some kids play hooky a few times while others are habitual offenders.
- TitleXLVIII of 2020 Florida Statutes states that “If a student has had at least five unexcused absences, or absences for which the reasons are unknown, within a calendar month or 10 unexcused absences within a 90-calendar-day period, the student’s primary teacher shall report to the school principal that the student may be exhibiting a pattern of nonattendance.” If your child is absent from school for legitimate reasons, communicate with the school.
Why Do Kids Skip School?
- BullyingThe National Center for Educational Statistics reports that 20% of students are being bullied, most often as verbal attacks, name calling and rumors.
- Being Overwhelmed AcademicallyStudents struggling may use avoidance strategies to deal with the problem.
- Problem in the Classroom or With PeersBeyond academics, students may have an issue with a teacher or the dynamics of a certain classroom. They may also be experiencing a difficult situation with peers.
- Financial DemandsSome students work one or more jobs to help support the family, which can interfere with regular school attendance.
- Substance AbuseStudents who wrestle with alcohol, drug or nicotine abuse may skip school to enable their habit or recover from intoxication.
- Mental Health ProblemsStudents suffering from anxiety, depression or other mental health conditions may find it difficult to keep up with classroom demands.
- Negative Peer InfluencesHanging out with the “wrong crowd” can lead otherwise compliant students to succumb to peer pressure.
- Ineligible to Participate in School ActivitiesMany schools require a student to be in attendance all day in order to participate in athletics and school-sponsored activities.
- Extra Work and Lower GradesMissing multiple lessons and assignments creates more makeup work and the potential to fall behind.
- Drivers License Suspension or RevocationTeens with permits or drivers licenses may lose driving privileges for habitual absenteeism.
- Legal IssuesBoth teens and parents can be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor for truancy in Florida.
- School OutreachMany schools notify parents of student absences by phone, text or email. Ensure your contact information is current with the school.
- Dropping GradesIf your teen’s grades are slipping, dig deeper to determine the cause. Absenteeism may be the cause or the result of classroom struggles.
- Change in BehaviorIf you notice a change in your child’s behavior, do not ignore it. They may be struggling and this could lead to missing school and complicating problems.
Talk to Your Teen
- Discuss Consequences
Preferably before it happens, discuss the ramifications of skipping school, both in the short and long term. Many students only see a day out of school.
- Get to the Root of the ProblemUnderstand why your child is missing school. They may not be transparent so this may require discussion with peers, parents and teachers.
- Form a PlanOnce the problem has been identified, communicate with the school on how to get the student back on track by creating a plan for student success.
- Work With the School for Quick NotificationSchools and teachers appreciate parental involvement and efforts to help children succeed. If they know you personally, they will be better prepared to communicate regularly.