Truancy is any intentional unauthorized or illegal absence from compulsary education. It is also known as hookey.

Truancy is against school regulation. Statistics show that more secondary students play truant compared to primary. Hence, a good number of adolescents play truant.

Studies show that truancy is an early sign of adolescent behavioural problem. Instead of the daily routine of attending school, these young people stray and this is an early sign to parents, teachers and the society to provide help for these students.

Why do adolescents play truant?

Study! Study! Study! This does not apply to all teenagers. Some get bored easily and will shun school.

Some of the risk factors for truancy are:

  • Peer Pressure

    • In the midst of friends who frequently play truant.

  • Experiencing Emotional problems

    • Depression, rending them not to think of consequences

    • Attention seeking especially from parents by engaging in negative attitudes

  • Social Problems

    • Poor parental supervision

    • Neglected

    • Oppositional

    • Not interested in studies

    • No life directions

  • Learning difficulties and poor attention span

    • Poor academic progress due to sub normal IQ

    • Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder

What is the consequence of frequent truancy?

  • Missed Educational Opportunities

    • The adolescent misses the opportunity to pursue higher education as a result of poor scholastic performance

    • The adolescent might be suspended or expelled from the school and have difficulty getting into a new school

  • Exposed to Social risks.

    • Teenagers who are easily influenced by fellow truants may also be involved in gangsterism, smoking, drugs and other vices

How do we prevent Truancy?

  • Role of Parents

    • Teenagers need attention from their parents. This will increase their bonding and they will strive better for their future.

    • Some parents tend to neglect older children, assuming they can fend for themselves. However teenagers need guidance as well.

    • Some parents have problems to communicate with their teenagers. It is important to communicate with teens, start initially with light topics then progress to more serious one like studies.

    • There should be more parental involvement with PTA (Parent Teacher Association) and school authorities .

  • The Role of School

    • The teacher should alert parents and advice accordingly should the student show problems with learning, ADHD, and need vocational or special education.

    • There should be a merit system or incentives to these students when they attend school

  • The Role of Community

    • The community at large, cyber café owners and the police can play a role in eliminating truancy by not encouraging teenagers in uniform to be at these places during school hours.

What can you do if your child is caught playing truant?

  • Be Calm

    • It is normal to be angry at your teenager if found playing truant. It is important not to accuse the school or point a finger at your child. You will have to be calm when talking to your teenager to ascertain why he or she played truant and to get to the underlying problem.

  • Get the necessary information and punishment guidelines from the school

    • Meet the school authority to get the actual number of days missed and the punishment meted for the offence as stipulated by the school.

    • The class teacher or counsellor may be able to give more information regarding the students behaviour in school

  • Talk to your child

    • Encourage open and honest communication .Assure them you are there to help them and understand why the child need to miss school and what are the problems faced by them.

  • Discuss regarding school problems and suggest solutions.

    • This is important if your child has problems with teachers and schoolmates.

  • Monitoring

    • Parents need to cooperate with counsellors and disciplinary teachers to ensure their child attends school daily and to be notified if they are playing truant again.


Last Reviewed : 26 November 2014
Writer : Dr. Nurul Wafa bte. Husin
Translator : Dr. Sheila Marimuthu
Accreditor : Dr. Hargeet Kaur A/P Basant Singh