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Truancy (wagging school)

problems; school; home; keeping; safe; safety; truancy; truant; wagging; skiving; off; safe. ;


What is truancy?

feeling sick Everyone has days when they don't feel like going to school. Sometimes they pretend to be sick and mum or dad lets them stay home, but sometimes they make plans to meet up with friends or go somewhere alone for the day. 

Some people go to school, or their parents think they do, then they go off alone or with a friend. Schools call this truancy (say trew-an-see). Kids call it 'wagging school', 'skiving off', and all sorts of other names. What do you call it where you live?

Of course most kids never do it, and a lot of schools nowadays have very strict rules to stop truancy, not because they want to catch kids out but because they want to keep kids safe and help them to make the most of their chance to learn.

The school has responsibility for the safety of kids in school hours and parents are responsible by Law for getting kids to go to school until they turn 17 (unless they have permission to 'home school' - do school work at home).

According to the law, any authorised officer (for example, a police officer or school attendance officer) who sees a child who appears to be of compulsory education age in a public place during normal school hours can stop the child and ask the child's age, name and address and why the child is absent from school [Education Act 1972 s.80]. A police officer can, without a warrant, take a child who is reasonably suspected of being a truant to their home or school [Education Act 1972 s 80].

Why do kids truant?

(stay away from school to do something else)

  • They want to get attention from parents, friends or teachers.
  • They may be being bullied by kids at school.
  • They may be running away from problems at home or at school.
  • They may have learning problems and feel really bad.
  • wagging schoolThey may have friends who truant.
  • They think it's the cool thing to do. 
  • They've been dared to truant by their peers.
  • They're feeling angry about something.
  • They just want to play and have a day off.
  • They want to make trouble for the school or their parents.

How you can help your friend

If your friend is playing truant then you would be a good friend if:

  • you told him that it is not a safe thing to do, and it can get him into more trouble
  • you told the teacher so that she could find your friend to keep him safe
  • you don't go with him
  • you told him that running away from problems is not the way to fix them
  • you tell your friend to talk to a trusted adult eg. school counsellor
  • you go with your friend to talk to someone about his problems
  • you show him that you care about his safety.

Many schools nowadays have rules that parents or carers have to let the school know if their child is going to be away.

If a child is not at school someone from the school will ring the child's home to see where the child is. The school is not being 'nosy,' they are looking after the safety of children. 

 Truanting is unsafe.

What kids said

This is what some children said about truanting (or "wagging" as they call it in South Australia)

  • "I didn't go to school one day because I wanted to go to the movies. It wasn't much fun because my friends weren't with me. I went to school and everyone was glad to see me as they had been looking for me.The school phoned my home. My mum and dad were very worried and sad but they love me and I love them so I promised I wouldn't do it again."

    Wagging is bad
    Your best friend feels sad.
    The teacher calls home.
    Mum picks up the phone.
    Mum feels blue,
    Dad is too.


  • truancy"I didn't go to school one day. My friend and I went to the shops instead. I was scared that I would see my mum and I did. I ran away before she saw us. My friend fell over and hurt herself. We got into trouble at school and at home. Truanting isn't worth it. We both got grounded at home and had to do community work at school."
  • "When I wagged school someone came to the house and I was scared that it was a robber."
  • "My friend decided to wag school one day. He went to go see a movie. It was really dark, he couldn't see a thing. When the movie finished his mum was sitting in the seat behind him."
School, school can be so boring.
Some days I am almost snoring.
So one day I decided to wag
I emptied my schoolbooks out of my bag.
I went to the shops, hanging cool.
And then I saw the Principal.
I tried to hide but he saw me
And called my name before I could flee.
My parents were mad as mad can be.
So don't wag school, don't you see?

By Jesse
One day I wagged school
I got away with it, it was cool
But when I got home I found my parents knew
So I got punishment, through and through
And when I went back to school the next day
My teachers gave me all work, no play
So I'm never going to wag school again,

By Scott
School is like your very best friend.
It helps you learn from beginning to end.
It was school that taught you to read and write.
You don't have to love it, but school's all right.

By Jessica

Dr Kate says:

Dr Kate"When you think about it school is a great place. Where else can you go where there are things to do, people your own age to be friends with, things to learn about and where there are people to help you with any problems you may have. If you are not happy at school talk to your parents and teachers to find the problem and fix it. You will be in school for a large part of your early life so you need to make the most of it.

After all, if you chose not to go and not to learn all you can to have a good life as an adult, then who does it hurt? You!"

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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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