Truancy in the United States: Examining temporal trends and correlates by race, age, and gender

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 2002–2014 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 amongst 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.

Publication Date:
Aug 07 2017
Date Submitted:
Nov 21 2018
Children and Youth Services Review
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 Record created 2018-11-21, last modified 2019-04-03

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