Tracking down truants

Tracking down truants

The morning Newshub tagged along on a police and truancy services operation in South Auckland, the team encountered about a dozen students who’d skipped out of school. Some were simply opportunists, but for the others the problems ran much deeper.

Among those missing from class were two girls caught smoking dope in their uniforms in a car parked just down the road from their school.

Two students visited by the team had missed approximately 25 percent of the school year so far.  

In one case, an adult was at home with the girl when the police came knocking, but no real explanation was given for why she hadn’t made it to school that day, or for almost a week and a half before that.  

It was shortly before lunch but the girl was still in bed under a duvet, plugged into headphones, listening to music. The police gave her a ride to school and the attendance service will follow up on her case.

Well after the start of the school day the team discovered at least three more students in uniform at a local train station. Two were heading to the city together. One claimed his mother knew what he was up to. The police gave his mum and the school a call and the two were sent packing.

There’s was also a 14-year-old, glued to her phone, waiting for a train to school -- albeit two hours late. Her fingers relentlessly tapped away at the screen as the police and Sharelle Rowntree from the Solomon Group attendance service tried to talk to her. That phone is the reason she would barely make half a day of class by the time she finally got to school. She was up late online on the phone and couldn’t get out of bed this morning.

Sharelle Rowntree says it’s an increasingly familiar problem with online chat, social pages and computer games.

“Some of the games… they just forget what time it is or how long they are in and all of sudden it can be right in the middle of the night and they don’t realise and they go to bed often quite hyped up,” she says.