Skipping School--Crime or Personal Choice?

Skipping School--Crime or Personal Choice?

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Editor’s Note: Is skipping school a crime or a personal choice? The City of Richmond, Calif. announced last week that students who are caught on the streets during school hours could be fined or forced to appear before a juvenile court judge. YO! Youth Outlook contributors Sean Shavers, Walter Lopez, Angelica Arreola, and Kavon Jones share their experiences with truancy and whether it should be punishable by law.

More and more young people ditch school these days. For some students, the prospect of dealing with the juvenile court system is enough to scare them into staying in school. The knuckleheads who continue to cut class will end up in and out of jail.

Students need to realize education is the key to whatever they want. Staying in school can help them get financial freedom later in life. Richmond should have a zero tolerance for truancy.
-- Angelica Arreola, 19


I think if kids miss more than five days of school for an unexcused reason, they should be incarcerated for 30 days. If this pattern continues, then there should be bigger consequences.

Truancy is a problem everywhere. Changes need to be made to address truancy. At the same time, the community needs to have a say in how a truancy penalty would be enforced. Parents’ opinions should be taken into consideration.

When I was in high school, I barely attended class. I missed 80 days of school in ninth grade and 50 days in tenth grade. I wasn't even thinking about school back then. Now I’m paying the price. Now I understand how important my education is.

Now I’m in and out of school, moving from one college to the next. I started off at Laney College, but now I’m taking online classes through University of Phoenix.

I’ve learned how important it is to not miss school. If I hadn’t missed so many days of school, I’d be at a state college right now.
-- Sean Shavers, 18


Truancy is not a new epidemic—teens have been cutting class for decades to pursue fun and miscellaneous activities outside of school grounds. In my younger days, school was a bore, class work was a chore, and I had ‘better’ things to do. I wish I had known better. I was too naïve to understand the importance of an education.

Too many people are passing the blame onto the next person or the parents or society. There is no scapegoat. Students are independent enough to make their own decisions in school.

There is no cure for truancy. However, if we can convince young people that there is a reason to go to school, convince them that school is really beneficial and that a future without school is grim, maybe we can change the stark issue with school attendance.

Ditching class to spend time with my friends was not a good decision. I don’t regret many things in my life, but cutting class and placing school on the backburner is something I regret.
--Walter Lopez, 22


Public school is a place of negativity. The teacher doesn’t care about students and some teachers will just let you fail without notification. Also teachers might say rude comments like, ‘What’s the point of coming to school? You aren’t going to be anything.’ This makes attending school even harder when you don’t have support from teachers. On top of that, if you don’t have support from anyone at home, you’ll become a truant and skip school.

I used to cut class at least once or twice a week. Staying home, getting high, going to the studio, or just being with my friends seemed way more entertaining than attending school. At school, you barely have breaks and the teachers don’t give you support. Not going seemed like the best thing for me. As I got older, I realized that was a stupid way of looking at things and I stopped being a truant.

Now I’m in eleventh grade and I care way more about school, because I realized that is the only way to make it out of Oakland. I hardly cut school anymore and started doing more work to get better grades. I found people who care about my success in school and seek their help as much as I can.

A lot of my family cut school and ended up dropping out. I’m trying not to continue this pattern.

I don’t think there should be penalties for students who skip class. Students should have the right to attend school if they want to. Some people have to take care of their family as minors, so they skip school to work. If you force these students to pay a fine, going to school will get even harder. I don’t encourage students to cut class, but certain circumstances force them to not be in school.
-- Kavon Jones, 16