Troubled Teen Truancy Actions Parents Can Take

There are many challenges parents of troubled teens face, and often dealing with school truancy is one of them. Truancy can affect your teen’s grades, delay graduation, and even result in legal proceedings and fines imposed on the parents.

The most important actions parents can take to address their teen’s truancy are to determine the cause and enforce the consequences.

Finding the Cause

It’s important to understand why your teen is ditching school. When you discover the cause for your teen’s truancy, you can decide the best way to address the problem. If you ask your teen why he skips school, don’t be surprised if he answers, I don’t know.” or “School is just boring.” If your teen won’t tell you why he is skipping school, you may need to meet with his teachers, his school counselor, and the school’s administrator to discuss possible causes.

Why does the cause for truancy matter?

Some teens skip school to avoid difficult, awkward, or threatening situations and the consequences for truancy may be lighter in these situations.

Skipping School to Avoid Trouble

It could be that your teen is being bullied at school, or he is being socially rejected or ostracised. Teen surveys indicate that students often feel like no one at school cares about them or even cares if they show up to school. In bigger schools, teens often feel insignificant and lost in the crowd.

Teens may also be dealing with emotional or mental issues such as depression or social anxiety, or problems that make attending classes and completing assignments difficult, such as ADHD, ADD, dyslexia, or OCD. Teens with these issues can find school extremely challenging to endure.

If your teen is skipping school for one of these reasons, you need to meet with a school administrator, counselor, or social worker to discuss what resources and services are available to help students with emotional, mental, or learning problems. The school may recommend a therapist or provide tutoring in the subjects that your teen struggles with. If bullying is the problem, you need to request that action be taken to protect your teen.

If your teen is having problems at school, he needs to know that you will be supportive and take steps to help him and protect him. This does not mean that your teen should get a free pass for ditching school. Teens also need to know that they cannot just choose to break the rules.

Skipping School to Get into More Trouble

Often teens skip school so they can hang out with their friends and watch tv or play video games. They may be ditching school so they can go somewhere to drink, use drugs, or engage in illegal activities, such as vandalism or stealing. These reasons for truancy need to be addressed with more serious consequences.

Rules and Consequences

Talk with your teen about the consequences of skipping school. Discuss the school’s disciplinary measures for truancy and then your own consequences. Some states will suspend the driver’s license of a student who is habitually truant. Some school districts require parents to deny cell phone access.

The consequences you enforce could be to take away your teen’s cell phone for a set number of days, or deny your teen access to the internet for anything other than homework. You may take away his car, or only allow him to drive to school and home. Whatever consequences parents decide on, the teen needs to be informed of those consequences, and then they need to be enforced consistently.

What if you feel your teen is out of control?

If you feel that your teen’s behavior is simply out of control, whether it’s drug use, defiance, truancy, or violent behaviors, it may be time to consider placing him in a therapeutic boarding school. These facilities offer a safe, controlled environment where teens receive therapy for their behavioral, emotional or mental issues. They help teens to learn that their actions and choices have consequences.They provide academic programs so that teens can get their school credits and additional tutoring, if needed.

Boarding schools for troubled boys also offer recreational activities such as hiking, camping, skiing, swimming, and other sports, so that teens can experience healthy and wholesome ways to have fun. It may be difficult for parents to send their son to live at a boarding school for troubled boys, but it may be the only way to prevent their troubled teen from continuing his destructive behaviors and ruining his life.

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