Family First Media Release 29 July 2013
Family First NZ is rubbishing suggestions that families pulling their children out of school for family holidays are contributing to the truancy rate and should be prosecuted.
“The suggestion is almost laughable, but is a repeat of threats made in 2007,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“Most NZ’ers have always understood truancy as an ‘unauthorised absence’, usually without the knowledge of the parents, and on a regular basis.”
“When the ongoing absence is with the knowledge of the parents and condoned by them, it usually indicates far greater issues of family dysfunction and an increased likelihood of at-risk behaviour by both the child and the family. That’s when there is a problem.”
Mr McCoskrie says that to suggest that a family taking advantage of cheap flights, available accommodation, or attending special occasions overseas or domestically is encouraging truancy is nonsense.
“Education happens in the family setting as well – even on holidays” says Mr McCoskrie.
“Will attendance at a funeral or tangi (often which requires the absence of a child for up to a week) or an overseas family wedding be frowned upon as well?”
A 2007 Ministry of Education report correctly highlighted home environment, student behaviour and culture as key contributors to the growing truancy rate.
“Truancy is increasing simply because we are ignoring the continued breakdown of families, both parents working, the increase of substance abuse, poverty, and other factors contributing to family dysfunction.”
“We need to tackle the actual problems of truancy – not target a functioning family who simply want to take an occasional special family holiday or attend a special event,” says Mr McCoskrie.