Background Truancy has long been regarded a common problem in urgent need of effective intervention. Knowledge about factors associated with truancy can guide the development and implementation of interventions. Method This paper examined trends in truancy rates between 2002 and 2014 and correlates of truancy across racial/ethnic groups. Variables of interest included sociodemographic factors (e.g., age, gender, socio-economic background), behavioral factors (e.g., substance use, violence), and psychosocial factors (e.g., academic engagement, grades, parental control). Using data from a large sample of adolescents (n = 209,393; 12–17 years) we estimated truancy prevalence rates and examined trends and correlates via regression analyses. Results Truancy rates remained constant between 2002 (10.8%) and 2014 (11.1%). Rates were highest among older youth, females, and Hispanic youth. For all racial/ethnic groups, truancy was significantly correlated with alcohol and marijuana use, fighting, the propensity to take risks, and lower academic engagement and school grades. Other factors were differentially associated with racial/ethnic groups. This divergence in risk patterns for different racial/ethnic groups points to some heterogeneity among truant youth. Discussion Despite truancy reduction efforts, truancy rates have remained stable. Efforts to prevent truancy and to intervene with truant youth may need to target risk factors more prevalent in specific racial/ethnic groups.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Author note: This research was supported in part by grant number R25 DA030310 (PI: Anthony) from the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health and by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education Institute of Educational Sciences (R305A150058) and support from the Dropout Prevention Institute of the Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk at the University of Texas at Austin.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science