Sunday, August 1, 2010

Part 1: Troubled Teen and Truancy

I met this very nice woman, a professional who lives near me, and she told me about problems with her son. Because she sent a lot of information, I’m going to share this story in a few entries. Here’s the background:

“Our son, aged 15, had been running away from home during the last three months of his sophomore year and through mid-summer, and would be missing for up to 14 days at a time. We had no idea where he was or who he was with, as he had started hanging out with kids who we knew nothing about. When he was at home, although I would drop him off at school each morning, we were notified by the school's automated attendance phone calls that he was skipping classes, and eventually missing days of school at a time. Many phone calls and meetings with teachers and school administrators became commonplace.

The only times he would come home was when police got involved and cited him for an offense like stealing, shoplifting, or being with someone who was cited for something. Other times, the school would call when he was suspended or there was a behavioral issue at school, which required us to pick him up and bring him home. Of course, he was not happy about having to come home (as it was not on his own terms).

Fortunately during this time, I started meeting School Resource Officers (SRO's) affiliated with his school, as well as with the city we live in. I kept hearing the police and the SRO's say, "you've got to start a paper trail, and report him as a runaway every time he does not return home when expected". "Because of all the classes he is missing, you need to have the school prepare an SARB before the school year ends."

One particular SRO was extremely helpful, and he patiently helped me understand school, police and legal issues. His knowledge of the school system and police policies were critical to understand, and I gladly share this information, so that other parents will understand that the paper trails and documentation are additional ways to protect parents from poor choices their child makes.”

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