Published on February 28, 2014
DR 7890 Truancy: Prevention, Resolution & Containment Presented by: Peggy K. Goodwin April 19, 2011
About Truancy • Truants are juveniles willfully and repeatedly absent from school, or juveniles who repeatedly violate the rules and regulations of the school. Individual school districts set their own standards for truancy. • In Detroit, ten or more unexcused absences are referred for “exclusionary discipline.” • Other districts address truancy at three or four unexcused absences. • Truancy is a status offense, meaning it is an offense that is harmful to a minor. My question…are they victims or offenders? • Truancy is often a sign of other negative behaviors affecting the youth.
Why Truancy? One of the most direct indicators of delinquency 78% of inmates have “truancy” listed as their first arrest 57% of violent crimes by juveniles occur when they should be in school 67% of truants test positive for drugs/alcohol when detained 82% of prisoners are high school dropouts (Original study U.S. Department of Justice, Juvenile Crime Statistics – 1996)
Economic Costs of Truancy Truancy has long-term economic consequences for families and communities. State aid is often distributed to school districts based on their average daily attendance. In Detroit, truancy affects the school district’s bottom line. •According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, (OJJDP), it costs upwards of $200,000 per high school dropout, over a lifetime, in excess criminal justice, social service and health care costs. •According to the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC), it costs approximately $30,000 per year to incarcerate a juvenile, while it costs about $8,000 per year to educate a child in most school districts. The National Dropout Prevention Center recommends the following strategies to prevent truancy and eventual dropout: •Attendance policies that promote attendance, rather than punish absence, especially through expulsion. •Early intervention programs identify students that have started skipping school before it reaches the level of habitual truancy. Can apply to elementary, middle and high schools. •Alternatives to adjudication for truancy: peer mediation, truancy prevention mediation. •Court based truancy reduction programs that provide services to families and youth as prevention but acknowledging that if truancy continues, adjudication is a possibility.
Youth Violence: A Multilayer Problem Family Society •Lack of Parenting •Inconsistent/Inappropriate Discipline •Substance Abuse/Alcoholism •Access to Guns •Exposure to Violent Entertainment •Moral Decline Youth Violence Individual •Inadequate Social Skills •Substance Abuse •Aggressive Tendencies School Culture •Intolerance of Differences •Insufficient policies, procedures and training to address conflict Barton, Elizabeth. Leadership Strategies for Safe Schools. Corwin Sage Company . 2009. Pg. 14
Ury’s Roles & Mayer’s Thesis Mayer’s Assertions about Problems in “Conflict Management ” • We overidentify our work with that of third-party neutrals, pg. 29 • Constructive Communication is more important than passionate advocacy, pg. 129 • Respect Trumps Anger, pg. 133 Ury’s Assertions about what is Needed along the Conflict Continuum: • Engaging the “Third Side”, which Ury says, is the “emergent will of the community.” pg. 14 • “Contain if necessary, resolve if possible, best of all prevent.” pg. 113
Ury’s “Witness” Example, Pg. 171: Thomas McIlvane and the 1991 Royal Oak Post Office Shooting My Question: Could in-school ADR programs have helped someone like Thomas McIlvane? • Could ADR have helped Thomas McIlvane while a student at Berkley High School? • He was in a small gang called “The Rats.” • Exhibited problems with anger and truancy in school. • Ury references several witnesses to McIlvane’s anger and threats from the post office. • McIlvane shot six, four fatally, and killed himself. • Witnesses to his anger began long before he worked at the post office, but were illequipped to intervene, it seems, anywhere along the way. • We all play a role as witnesses. • Anger does need to be addressed (Mayer pg. 133)
Define “Safe Schools” Elizabeth Barton provides indicators for a safe school, including: A Safe School Team Administration Commitment • Parents, Student, Juvenile Justice, Law Enforcement, Social Worker, Mental Health Specialist, Community/Faith Based Leader, School Board member and After School Program Managers. • Commits resources to plan and implement strategies. Include research and communication with community. Comprehensive student programming • Programs and Curriculum to prevent and reduce violence and aggressive behaviors . Cleanliness • Both inside and outside the school should be kept clean and organized High Academic Standards • Environment should reflect a culture of learning. Partnerships with the Community • Residents, Non-Profits, Faith-Based and Businesses. Barton, Elizabeth. Leadership Strategies for Safe Schools, 2009. Pg. 8-11
A look at Safe School Roles Planning for safe schools presents a variety of “System Roles,” Mayer, pg. 243, describes such roles as ombudsperson, process designer and program evaluator. A comprehensive plan should include Ury’s concept of conflict prevention, resolution and containment. Participation in the plan creates opportunities for Ury’s roles of teacher, provider, bridge-builder and implementation will involve mediators, witnesses and peacekeepers. Pg. 190 My addition – creating an interdisciplinary role of “school safety coordinator,” may be a perfect role for MADR students. A true conflict engagement specialist working in a systems role.
ADR Programs Reviewed 1.Peer Mediation: Elizabeth Barton’s Overview 2.Truancy Prevention Through Mediation (TPTM): A look at Ohio’s Commitment to this program 3.Restorative Practices: An Urban School in Pennsylvania Transformed 4.My Advocacy for Detroit: What are we doing?
Elizabeth Barton also Recommends Curriculum and Programs •Character Development Education in School Curricula •Conflict Resolution Education as Curricula – including anger management. :
Peer Mediation Empowers Youth •Peer Mediation has as its foundation social learning theory – individuals mimic behaviors that they see. •Children follow actions, not words – applies here. •Behaviors observed are internalized; if viewed beneficial, can be spontaneously produced as ways to deal with disputes in the future. (constructive or destructive behaviors). •Peer mediators are models of constructive conflict resolution who assist peers in the process of resolving conflicts. •Successful peer mediation programs take a great deal of time and have the commitment of school administrators, teachers, parents and students. •Need for at least one coordinator for the program; and 2 trained peer mediators for every 40 students. •Training peer mediators is a three day process. •Peer mediators are selected for their commitment to the concept, willingness to participate in the program, leadership skills, permission from parents, and understanding of confidentiality. • San Francisco Community Board has been implementing peer mediation programs since 1982. According to Civic Practice Network of California, evaluations of peer mediation programs suggest a 37% decrease in disciplinary infractions. The peer mediators themselves develop leadership skills, improved self-esteem and academic achievement, as well as reduced recidivism rates. Barton, Elizabeth. Leadership Strategies for Safe Schools. 2009. Pg. 95-113
Truancy Prevention Through Mediation •Ohio is the forerunner in using TPTM •The Ohio Commission on Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management was established by the legislature in 1989 •Mediator facilitates discussion with student, parent/guardian and school official. Agreement rate is very high at 86%. •During the 2004-2005 school year, students who were mediated were absent, on average, 13.41 days before the mediation and were absent 7.21 days after the mediation. Ohio Commission on Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management, 2005
Truancy Prevention Through Mediation •The root cause of absences can often be addressed because of confidentiality. •Referrals are made to help the student and parent/guardian overcome obstacles that may be preventing them from getting to, and staying in, school. •The truant youth and parent are empowered as they are part of their agreement with the school. •Reduces burden on court and keeps youth out of punitive juvenile justice system Ohio Commission on Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management
Top Reasons for Truancy: Ohio K-12 Student Illness Not Getting Up on Time Transportation Problems Did not feel need to attend Poor Parenting Skills Parent didn't know child absent Parent Employment Interfered Student Mental Health Issues Source: Ohio Commission on Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management State Overview 2005
Truancy Prevention Program Integrated into Marion, Ohio Reported Graduation Rates in Marion, Ohio: 90-97%
Restorative Practices: “Changing the Culture of Disrespect” •Has as its foundation Restorative Justice and Victim Offender Mediation. •Considered a “social science,” Restorative Practices is an emerging field of study. •Hypothesis: Human beings are happier, more cooperative and productive, and more likely to make positive changes in their behavior when those in positions of authority do things with them, not to them or for them. •It is the science of building social capital and achieving social discipline through participatory learning and decision making…giving people a voice. •In Restorative Circles, teachers participate with students and others in restoring and building relationships. Emotions are expressed in a safe, facilitated environment, and the goal is to minimize the negative and maximize the positive, but allow for free expression. •Donald Nathanson developed the “Compass of Shame,” (see illustration next frame), and explains that shame is a critical regulator of human social behavior. Shame results in negative behavior, depicted on the four poles of the compass. •Victims of abuse, crime, neglect, etc. often feel shame, even though they did not commit the “shameful” act. Nathanson, Donald (1997) Affect Theory and the Compass of Shame; International Institute of Restorative Practice, Bethlehem, PA.
Donald Nathanson, “Compass of Shame,” 1992
West Philadelphia: A High School Transformed
Detroit: Is ADR Needed? Is it Being Applied? How? • As far as schools go, interviews with Detroit Public Schools officials resulted in discovering that essentially, implementation of conflict resolution education and programs is left up to each school. • Recent reported graduation rates in Detroit range from 30% to 62%. • During the 2009-2010 school year, there were 29,000 incidents of expulsions and suspensions, in a district of about 80,000 students. That same year, there were more than 12,000 juvenile arrests in Detroit, according to Detroit Police Department. • An article in the March 3, 2011 edition of the Detroit Free Press noted that a typical Detroit High School Student missed 46 days of instruction during the 2009-2010 school year. And, reported that 65% of Cody High School students skip school on a regular basis. DPS Attendance Office Reports: • Civilian Patrols are active and consistent in Osborn High School, Brenda Scott Middle School. • Restorative Practices have been applied to at least one high school. • Truancy Prevention through Mediation is active in “some” of the district’s 146 schools. Detroit Public Schools Office of Code of Conduct and Attendance Office 2011; Detroit Free Press, March 3, 2011
The Need: A Detroit Elementary School How Many Know Someone Who Has Been Shot? Or Killed? Prevention
The Third Side: M.A.D.E. Men Made Men are providers of safety, bridge builders, witnesses and peacekeepers.
Introducing Operation Safe Passage: A Pilot Program in Northwest Detroit OSP goal is to reduce truancy and increase high school graduation. One objective is to replace “Exclusionary Discipline” with productive activities. Community is Key: Unlikely Partners 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 7 6 4 2
“Go On Patrol” Ury, The Third Side pg. 173 Detroit Officials Rounding Up Truants - Video WDIV Detroit.mht
Detroit Public Schools promotes “I’m In,” But too many are, in fact, “out” Operation Safe Passage
Thank you! Questions & Comments PUBLIC SAFETY ADVISOR
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