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Title: Truancy  
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Subject: School refusal, Socio-economic decile, Lux-Pain, Biometrics in schools, Cutting Class
Collection: School and Classroom Behaviour, Student Culture
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Truancy hotline road sign in Savannah, Georgia, USA

Truancy is any intentional unauthorized or illegal absence from compulsory education. It is absences caused by students of their own free will, and usually does not refer to legitimate "excused" absences, such as ones related to medical conditions. Truancy is usually explicitly defined in the school's handbook of policies and procedures. Some children whose parents claim to homeschool have also been found truant in the United States.[1] Another term for truancy is playing hooky. Attending school, but not going to class is skipping class.

In some schools, truancy may result in not being able to graduate or to receive credit for class attended, until the time lost to truancy is made up through a combination of detention, fines, or summer school.

Truancy is a frequent subject of popular culture; perhaps most famously Ferris Bueller's Day Off, which is entirely about the title character's (played by Matthew Broderick) day of truancy in Chicago with his girlfriend and best friend. Truancy is also the title of a 2008 novel about a student uprising against a dictatorial educational system.


  • Slang expressions 1
  • Punishments imposed 2
    • Australia 2.1
    • Denmark 2.2
    • Finland 2.3
    • Germany 2.4
    • England and Wales 2.5
    • United States 2.6
  • Truant's Day 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5

Slang expressions

There are a number of expressions in English which refer to truancy. In South Africa, the slang used is bunking, mulling, skipping or jippo. In Jamaica, it is called skulling. In Guyana skulking. In Antigua and Barbuda, it is called skudding. In New Zealand and Australia truancy is called wagging, bunking, "jigging", ditching, or skipping school. It is called bunking (off) or skiving or wagging in the United Kingdom, mitching, wagging or on the knock. In Wales, sagging. In Liverpool, bunking or cutting class, doggin, skiving, playing tickie or puggin. In Scotland, on the hop, on the bunk, mitching, beaking, skiving, doggin it or on the beak. In Ireland, mitching, on the hop, dossing, on the duck or skiving. In the United States and Canada expressions include hookey, playing hookey, ditching, dipping, jigging, sluffing, skipping, cutting class, or simply just cutting. In the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, the act of truancy is known amongst youths as "pipping off", and truant students are described as being "on the pip". In Trinidad and Tobago, it is referred to as breaking biche. In Singapore and Malaysia, it is referred to as fly. In the state of Utah a sluff is a commonly used word referring to a truancy. In Pakistan it is referred to as bunking. In India it is "Bunking" in English, "Golli", "Dandi"and "Dumma" colloquially.

Punishments imposed

Ralph Hedley: The Truant's Log, 1899


In Australia, schools, in most cases, contact and keep a close relationship with local police to combat truancy. Most schools that have a nearby police station have police vehicles monitoring the areas around the school grounds to look for truant students. In most cases the students are returned to the schools. The Australian government threatened to take action on parents who have truant students by withdrawing child support payments to any parent whose child is caught multiple times.

Recently, schools have started a system whereby if students are not marked as present, the school computers will automatically text the parent(s) of the child to notify of their absence. Also, the use of marking present lists at schools has been taken over by computers. This way of checking if a student is absent, is a more accurate way to identify if the student is truant and in what class.


In Denmark, some welfare benefits can be confiscated for a period if the child does not attend school. However, not all cities use this approach to keep the children in school.[2] Most cities watch for families who have not returned their children to school after the summer vacation because some groups exiled their children to their ethnic home countries for behavior modification. In the city of Aarhus, 155 children had not turned up one week after the school started.[3] In April 2009, research among 4,000 students showed that more than every third student had been absent during the last 14 days.[4]


In Finland truant pupils usually get detention in comprehensive schools. The police are not involved in truancy control but the teachers of the school monitor the school area and sometimes the nearby areas during recess to avoid unauthorized absence. If the pupil is absent for a long period of time the parents may be fined.[5] The aim of fining is to try to force parents to put their children into school. The child will not be escorted to school or taken from parents.


In Germany, the parents of a child absent from school without a legitimate excuse are notified by the school. If the parents refuse to send their child to school or are unable to control their child, local child services or social services officers may request the police to escort the child to school, and in extreme cases may petition a court to partially or completely remove child custody from the parents. Parents may also be fined in cases of refusal.

England and Wales

In England and Wales, truancy is a criminal offence for parents.[6] Since 1998, a police officer of or above the rank of superintendent may direct that for a specified time in a specified area a police officer may remove a child believed to be absent from a school without authority to that school or to another designated place. However this is not a power of arrest and it is not a power to detain, and does not make truancy a criminal offence.[7] There is a warning given the first time the parents allow the child to commit truancy, but if they allow it more than once, then the parents are given a fine starting from £50.

United States

In the United States, truancy regulations are generally enforced by school officials under the context of parental responsibility. New automated calling systems allow the automated notification of parents when a child is not marked present in the computer, and truancy records for many states are available for inspection online. In large schools where law enforcement officers are present, the fine for "playing hookey" can range from $250 to as much as $500. About 12,000 students were ticketed for truancy in 2008 in Los Angeles.[8] Many states provide for the appointment of local truancy officers who have the authority to arrest habitually truant youths and bring them to their parents or to the school they are supposed to attend. Many states also have the power to revoke a student's driver's license or permit. Where it exists, a school truancy officer is often a constable or sheriff, concurrently. The position of a full-time truancy officer is generally viewed as being a relic from the 19th century when mandatory school attendance was relatively new.

Children in private school or homeschooling are exempt from mandatory public school.[9]

Truant's Day

In Poland and the Faroe Islands, the first day of spring (March 21) is an unofficial occasion popular among children, who traditionally play truant on that day.[10] Similarly, students in the United States and Canada have Senior Skip Day (commonly called beach day in eastern Canada). The date for skip day varies among different schools. In the Eastern states of the United States, Senior Skip Day is often celebrated on the last Friday before Spring Break.[11]

See also


  1. ^ "Home-school mom charged with allowing truancy". 25 April 2005. Retrieved 29 January 2011. 
  2. ^ Det virker at inddrage børnechecken (It works confiscating the child benefit check), by Anette Sørensen, Denmarks Radio, October 25, 2008
  3. ^ 155 elever er ikke mødt op (155 children have not started), by Majken Klintø,, August 26, 2008
  4. ^ Børn pjækker mere fra skole, DR News, April 30, 2009
  5. ^ "Äidille sakkoja lasten oppivelvollisuuden laiminlyömisestä - - Kotimaa" (in Finnish). Retrieved 1 February 2011. 
  6. ^ S.7 Education act 1996
  7. ^ "Electronic Records Online". Retrieved 2012-01-21. 
  8. ^ Ehrenreich, Barbara (9 August 2009). "OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR; Is It Now a Crime to Be Poor?". The New York Times. p. 9. Retrieved 1 February 2011. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Public Holidays in Poland". Retrieved 2012-01-21. 
  11. ^ Dyer, Elisabeth (14 April 2006). "Life's a beach for many students on senior skip day". St. Petersburg times. Retrieved 23 November 2010. 
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