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Assignment Questions

Research Study on the Effects of Truancy

Based on the purpose of the study and review of the literature, develop a research design…

The primary purpose of this study is to determine the effect of truancy on the number of cases that are filed with Houston juvenile courts. Through further examination and study, I believe that truancy is a gateway to more offensive criminal behavior. This study will be accomplished by examining court records, interviewing prosecutors, school officials, and students as well as reviewing school data presented to the Courts. By analyzing the input data to the courts, information will be obtained giving valuable insight in to the factors influencing students who become truant and how educators may be able to develop prevention programs to reduce the number of Truancy.

The Significance of the Study

Every day, hundreds of thousands of youth are absent from school. Many are absent without an excuse and deemed truant. While there are no significant national studies or data regarding truancy rates across the nation, many large cities report staggering rates of truancy and chronic absenteeism. Baker, Sigmon, Nugent. (2001).
The proportion of truancy cases handled in juvenile courts is relatively small in comparison to other juvenile offenses. Truancy has historically been a matter of school attendance slightly affecting school performance and funding. However, local statistics indicate that as the truancy rates rise, with repeat offenders, so do the number of cases in the juvenile justice system. Recent statistics available on the extent of truancy cases in juvenile courts clearly demonstrate how important it is for schools and communities to confront this issue. Puzzanchera, Finnegan, Snyder, and Tierney. (1998). What I hope to determine through further study is that truancy is a gateway to more offensive criminal behavior.
Truancy is a violation of state law as a status offense for the youth and educational neglect for the parent; addressing the underlying issues is necessary for long-term behavior change. According to Kris Moore, Prosecutor with the Harris County District Attorney?s Office, there are few statistics factors contributing to student truancy, but out of the 53 cases she has handled, she observed personally that they kids didn?t feel connected to the school environment nor the learning process. She said that often they needed to be in some kind of alternative learning environment instead of trying to make them conform to the requirement of traditional school settings. Moore, K. (personal communication, August 30, 2005).
Implementing a successful, sustainable truancy reduction program has its share of challenges. Moore offers suggestions for research and studies to look into effective practices for retaining students in school as well as reducing truancy issues throughout the City of Houston and Harris County. Moore suggests sending a clear, unified message to all students that there are consequences to truancy, and providing more intense interaction between parents and students, as well as a quick docket setting in court. Schools should provide mentors, if you will truancy counselors, with access to needed services and knowledge of the juvenile system The juvenile court system and the schools need to get ? on the same page? in their efforts. (Moore, K. personal communication, August 30, 2005). Left unchecked, truancy is a risk factor for serious juvenile delinquency. Truancy?s impact also extends into the adult years where it has been linked to numerous negative outcomes. Consequently, it is critical to identify strategies to prevent chronic truancy and to interrupt progression to delinquency and other negative behaviors by addressing the underlying reasons behind their absence from school. Baker, M. L. et al. (2001).

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