Few parents prosecuted over truancy

Sunday Star Times 22 April 2012
The government’s promise to crack down on truants and convict their parents has fallen flat, with just a few convictions in the past two years. The revelation comes as a poll shows the public supports stiffer penalties for parents. Labour says the Government’s attempt to tackle truancy by throwing millions of dollars at the issue has failed. The Ministry of Education funded the prosecutions of just 15 parents of truant children last year, despite 29,000 students being absent on any given day. A further eight parents were prosecuted for failing to even enrol their children. Figures released under the Official Information Act reveal 2300 children are missing from the school system through long-term truancy or failing to enrol. The number of “missing” students remains unchanged since 2010, when the Government poured millions of dollars into getting children back in class. At the time, then Education Minister Anne Tolley slammed Labour for failing to address the issue, and promised the Government would “get tough on truancy”.