Family First is rubbishing suggestions that families pulling their children out of school for family holidays are contributing to the truancy rate and should be prosecuted.
“The suggestion is almost laughable,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “Most NZ’ers have always understood truancy as an “unauthorised absence”, usually without the knowledge of the parents, and on a regular basis.”
“And when the ongoing absence 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, available accommodation 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. “Will attendance at a funeral or tangi (often which requires the absence of a child for up to a week) be illegal also?”
The recent Ministry of Education report correctly highlights home environment, student behaviour and culture as key contributors to the growing truancy rate (41% since 2002).
“Truancy is increasing simply because we are ignoring the continued breakdown of families, both parents working, the increase of substance abuse, poverty, and other factors contributing to family dysfunction.”
“We need to tackle the actual problems of truancy – not target a functioning family who simply want to take an occasional special family holiday,” says Mr McCoskrie.