“Most NZ’ers have always understood truancy as an ‘unauthorised absence’, usually without the knowledge of the parents, and on a regular basis,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“When the ongoing truancy is with the knowledge of the parents, it usually indicates far greater issues of family dysfunction and an increased likelihood of at-risk behaviour by both the child and the family.”
Mr McCoskrie says that to suggest that a family taking advantage of cheap flights or families attending special occasions overseas is encouraging truancy is nonsense.
“Education happens in the family setting as well – even on holidays,” says Mr McCoskrie. “Sometimes attendance at a wedding or funeral or tangi (often which requires the absence of a child for up to a week) can also pull a child out of school for a longer period of time.”
A 2007 Ministry of Education report correctly highlighted home environment, student behaviour and culture as key contributors to the truancy rate.
We need to tackle the actual problems of truancy, especially that condoned by the parents – not target a functioning family who simply want to take an occasional special holiday overseas,” says Mr McCoskrie.