18 Jun 2011

Prosecution 'not always right path' for truancy

1:15 pm on 18 June 2011

The head of the Secondary Principals' Council is questioning the prosecution of a Porirua woman because a 12-year-old in her care would not go to school.

The woman faces two charges of unlawfully keeping a child out of school.

Council chair Julia Davidson says sometimes prosecution is not the right path to take, as in many cases caregivers have done all they can to ensure a child attends school.

Mrs Davidson says prosecution is a last resort, for situations where the family is aware the child is not going to school and is helping them play truant.

She says it is very hard for parents to ensure their child stays at school once they have been dropped off at the gate.

Divided opinions

But Primary Principals' Council chair Jan Tinetti believes there should be more prosecutions of parents whose children continue to miss school.

Ms Tinetti says she believes the court process should be used more often to deal with truancy, as it would put more pressure on parents: "If those laws were enforced a bit more, then we would have less truancy."

However, she says the first course of action should always be for schools to talk with parents.

Wellington College principal Roger Moses says there are circumstances where prosecution of a parent for their child's truancy is appropriate.

Mr Moses says sometimes the courts need to get involved when parents are participating in the students' action, but in cases where a parent has been actively condemning their child's truancy, it is pointless laying charges.