U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Addressing Truancy in Youth Court Programs (From Selected Topics on Youth Courts: A Monograph, P 1-24, 2004, Tracy Godwin Mullins, ed. -- See NCJ-208164)

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2004
24 pages
Based on a focus-group discussion, research, and promising practices related to truancy reduction, this paper provides an overview of the scope of the problem of truancy, benefits in addressing truancy in youth courts, effective strategies for working with truants, and possible benchmarks for youth courts to use when measuring success in truancy-reduction efforts.
Variations in truancy enforcement policies and recordkeeping between and within States prevents an accurate documentation of truancy; however, it is clear that truancy often leads to academic failure that has an adverse effect on the youth's short-term and long-term social and economic situations. In jurisdictions with youth courts, they are being considered as an alternative response for handling truancy cases. Advantages of this policy are holding truants accountable through positive peer pressure and a challenge to change their behavior; providing a proven referral source for schools in dealing with truancy; reducing the truancy caseload of juvenile and family courts; providing reinforcement for parental efforts to deal with their children's truancy; and providing a cost-saving intervention before truancy becomes chronic. Challenges for addressing truancy in youth courts are the time involved, the identification of youth in the early stages of truancy, the development of effective partnerships, the sharing of confidential information, the peer-driven nature of youth courts, involving families, and cultural and language barriers. Strategies for addressing truancy in youth courts are to include these courts as a component of a comprehensive truancy strategy; identify the causes of the problem; involve and support families of truant youth; provide services that connect youth to people, places, and activities; link truant youth with a mentor; monitor compliance; train volunteers to work with truant youth; and make the school climate more healthy. Suggestions are offered for evaluating program effectiveness. 42 references and supplemental resources

Date Published: January 1, 2004