Student Truancy

  • Video Overview:

    When Ingrid was little, she got As and Bs and her mother was proud of her. But when she got to high school, she decided having fun was more important than school. Ingrid started ditching school and sneaking out at night to go to parties. When she was 16, Ingrid got caught by her stepdad and kicked out of her house. For months, she stayed with friends or slept in parks, and she dropped out of school. With no place to go and not much to do, Ingrid got into drugs and into trouble with the police.

    Police officers say that prisons are full of people who skipped school, hung out in the streets, and didn’t get their high school diploma. In fact, more than 80 percent of prison inmates never finished high school.

    When Ingrid was 17, she looked into the future and saw a lousy job, very little money, trouble with the law and no family to lean on. So she walked home, asked her mother for help, got into rehab and went back to school. She managed to graduate and go to college. She now does community service to help other kids get their lives back on track. She says, “If I was able to do it, then I think anybody could do it; you just have to believe.”


    1. Why did Ingrid “ditch” school?
    2. What was her life like when she dropped out?
    3. What did she do to change her situation and make her life better?


    1. How would you help someone return home after being kicked out and living on the streets?
    2. What would you say to a friend who thinks school is too boring to keep attending?

    Students will be able to…

    • Research the laws and guidelines governing truancy
    • Identify activities that are limited to teens due to their age
    • Research other laws and age restrictions on those indentified activities
    • Debate raising or lowering the minimum required ages for activities
    • Evaluate the validity of others’ arguments


    • Pens, pencils, paper
    • Internet access for research
    • White board


    1. Students often complain about the unfairness of age restrictions on activities like driving, drinking alcohol and getting a tattoo. Discuss with students the legal requirements for attending school and truancy laws. Ask students to brainstorm various activities they are prohibited from participating in until they are a certain age, and list these activities on the board. Lead a discussion about the fairness and necessity of these age restrictions.

    • Do you think it’s fair to have laws and guidelines restricting these activities?
    • Do you think these laws and guidelines are necessary? Why or why not?

    2. Tell students that they will have the chance to prove whether or not they are responsible enough to handle the activities they’ve listed. Each student will research one of the restricted activities and debate for or against changing the laws and guidelines that govern the activity. They will use facts to prove whether or not students in their age group could actually handle the responsibility associated with their chosen activity. You can use the examples generated during the class discussion or use the following list of activities:

    • Driving a car, boat or all-terrain vehicle • Joining the military
    • Drinking alcohol
    • Smoking cigarettes
    • Getting married
    • Seeking health care without parents’ permission
    • Getting a tattoo or piercing
    • Staying out later than the city curfew
    • Renting an apartment or buying property
    • Watching movies with “R” ratings
    • Getting a job
    • Voting for elected officials

    Note: You may chose to assign an issue and a side (for or against) to each student or allow them to choose the issue and side themselves.

    3. After students complete their research, set up a schedule for them to debate their issues. Consider the following options:

    • Separate students into groups of six, allowing four students to listen while the other two argue their sides.
    • Plan a debate day and allow all students to debate their sides of the issues in front of the entire class.
    • Pick a new issue each day and allow a pair of students to debate that issue at the beginning or end of each class.
  • Academic Success

    About the Program

    Watching this real story can help teens to understand the real consequences of skipping school. Encourage responsibility and planning for the future by helping kids to think about the positive outcomes of showing up and staying involved in school, every single day.

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