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Punish me, not mum and dad, say teenage truants

Teenage truants say they - not their parents or schools - should be punished for bunking off, according to researchers.

Secondary-age pupils were asked by interviewers taking evidence for the National Behaviour and Attendance Review what they thought should happen if they were persistently absent from lessons.

Most said that, since they had truanted without their parents' knowledge, they should be the ones to take the rap.

Writing in TES Cymru today, Professor Ken Reid, chair of the behaviour review, says the idea of "punishing pupils for truancy" is worth considering.

He writes that prosecutions of parents for their children's non- attendance have significantly increased in England, yet absenteeism there has increased. And this is despite the fact that some English authorities are four or five times more likely than others to take parents to court.

"This (increase in truancy in England) reflects the fact that punishing parents for their children's non-attendance seems to work only in a small percentage of cases," he writes.

The academic's comment come just weeks before the Assembly government launches its action plan in response to far-reaching recommendations made by the behaviour review in its report last May.

The report was critical of England's hardline approaches to truancy. It also criticised some schools and local authorities in Wales for excluding too many pupils.

But, as TES Cymru revealed last month, half of Wales's primary-age children missed more than two weeks of school in 2007-08, according to the Assembly government's latest figures.

Professor Reid blamed the high figures on parents who took their children on holiday in term time.

Taking the rap, page 38.

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