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What Happens When a Teen Skips School All the Time?

by Freddie Silver, studioD

Skipping school is a disturbingly widespread practice among teens from all socio-economic backgrounds. The Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University found that almost 7 million students miss 18 or more days of school per year. Teens say they skip because they are bored in class, feel disconnected to school and prefer to hang out with their friends. Many believe they won't suffer any unpleasant consequences, but they are wrong.

Short-Term Academic and Social Consequences

Teens in large school systems don't get caught every time they skip a class because most schools have difficulty coping with all the absentees or because students forge parental excuse notes. Although most teens fool themselves into believing they'll be able to catch up, each missed class results in some academic setback. Students who skip school do not normally spend the time studying in the library. They hang out with friends watching TV, playing on computers or browsing in malls.

Long-Term Academic and Social Consequences

Absences negatively affect academic results. The New York City Independent Budget Office found that test results plummet after as few as five days of absence. Failed courses lower the chance of graduating high school and increase the risk of dropping out of school. Absence negatively impacts standardized test scores, making it difficult for educators to accurately analyze achievement results and to effectively program for increased success. Skipping school increases the likelihood teens encounter other truant teens while hanging out. These teens are at greater risk of taking drugs and vandalism.

Short-Term Disciplinary Consequences

Students who are caught skipping are given consequences that range from detentions to suspension from school. School administrators inform the parents who often impose additional punishments such as grounding the teen at home for a few days, withdrawing computer game privileges or cutting off allowances. If the teen was skipping because of a bullying issue, it's essential the school be informed and take steps to resolve the issue.

Long-Term Disciplinary Consequences

If the chronic skipper is over the age of 16, the school might expel the teen. Many school districts offer alternative schools with increased support services. Truancy officers, attendance counselors or social work agencies become involved with younger teens and frequently take court action to encourage the parents to get their delinquent teen under control. Chronic absenteeism sometimes leads to criminal behavior and police involvement. Teens who don't graduate high school find themselves less employable and often doomed to low-paying jobs.

About the Author

Freddie Silver started writing newsletters for the Toronto District School Board in 1997. Her areas of expertise include staff management and professional development. She holds a master's degree in psychology from the University of Toronto and is currently pursuing her PhD at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, focusing on emotions and professional relationships.

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