To think that 14 year olds who skip school should be punished rather than adults

(75 Posts)
ReallyTired Mon 22-Aug-16 00:40:55

Legally parents can end up with a criminal record if their teen fails to attend school. In theory parents can be fined or even sent to jail for children not attending school.

I have been enjoying the break from battles to get my son to school, but I feel sick as September approaches.

There is very little help for the parents' of teens to get them into school. It is not practical to pick him and force him into the car. He is larger and stronger than both his parents. We would probably be done for child abuse if we did man handle him into the car.

My son has refused point blank help offered from CAMHS. He is Gilleck competent yet he is totally insulated from the consequences of his decision not to accept help. There is no possibility of him being punished by the criminal courts. There is no risk of him being taken into care unless his parents are jailed. There is no possibility of him being fined.

I feel that my son should shoulder some responsiblity for attending school. My son knows that he can do whatever he likes and nothing we can do other than deny him all access to all electronics and the Internet. There is no point in grounding him as he never goes out anyway. It does not matter how vile he as the fact that he is under 18 means he is shielded from any consequences unless he breaks criminal law. The law does not see it as the child's responsibility to attend school in any way whatsoever.

I dread the fact that kids now have to be in education or training until 18. Will parents be jailed when their 17 year old teen refuses to attend college? I think it would be fairer to jail the 17 year old.

School refusal is a difficult issue, but it's hard to have sympathy with a teen who is so uncooperative to receiving help. If parents cannot force their child to accept help against their wishes then parents should not be punished.

AndNowItsSeven Mon 22-Aug-16 00:43:16

No your ds has a right to an education , that doesn't mean he should be punished for not taking advantage of that right.
No parent who makes reasonable steps to get their teen in school would be jailed or even fined.

ReallyTired Mon 22-Aug-16 01:00:24

Either education is complusory or it isn't. A 14 year old cannot choose not to take advantage of the right to an education. The U.K. truancy laws need updating to reflect the fact that children cannot choose to leave school at 14 anymore.

I think that if there was the threat of a secure residential unit or being taken into care for school refusers over the age 13 would make my son think twice about skipping school.

Children who refuse to attend school are more likely to get into crime. They are more likely to unemployed when they are older.

CodyKing Mon 22-Aug-16 01:09:22

That's an interesting point!

Do school have any suggestions or incentives?

Has the head ever knocked in you door? If not why not??

My son refused school twice aged 10 and I didn't man handle him in - I rang the school and told them he refused - yet not one person spoke to him to ask why - can anything be done to help etc.

ReallyTired Mon 22-Aug-16 01:19:22

In a large secondary school the head teacher had no idea who my son is. I would love it if one of his senior teachers came and knocked on his bedroom door. He would be mortified if his head of year saw him lying in bed at 10am. Teachers don't have time for home visits as they also have to teach. Secondary schools take children from a wider area than primaries. Admitally we are on a mile from the school.

I had meetings with his head of year and the deputy head, but my son has not been at these meetings.

Quietlygoingmad67 Mon 22-Aug-16 01:24:23

Can you contact your education inclusion office and see what other forms of education are available for a 'school refuser' - so at least he is getting an education. I understand t isn't an ideal solution but maybe it would work for him. What help have the school suggested or given?

ReallyTired Mon 22-Aug-16 01:51:40

in all fairness I have been getting my son into school most days, but he arrives late. He has typically missed one school day a week and been late the others. The result of this is that he is marked absent for all his morning sessions as I gave typically got him in at 10am. Last term he was only in school on time on two occasions.

I had issues that the school want him to have an after school detention for everytime he has an unauthorised late. In the spring term he did not go into school at all because he did not get punished for taking the whole day off. In the summer the school did not punish him for unauthorised lates so attendence was a lot better. The school has a policy of escalating sanctions. In theory my son should be suspended for his persistent lateness. (My son thinks that the idea of being suspended for lateness caused by school refusal is hilerous.) Thankfully senior management used their discretion not to suspend him.

The school has refused to refer us to an educational welfare officer. Apparently they don't want me to get fined as they think I am doing everything humanly possible. I want the educational welfare officer to help the school and I form a plan. I disagree with the school's policy of punishing lates with detentions.

I have a younger child who also needs to get to school. I have found that shouting at him is counter productive. It makes him more intransitant about going to school. I found that easier to persuade him to get out bed when no one else is in the house.

Quietlygoingmad67 Mon 22-Aug-16 02:05:10

Can you contact the EWO yourself? When your son turns up late do the school make you fill in a late book? If so that can be proof that you are getting him there but later. I can't see that the EWO would fine you if you are doing your upmost to help him also Camhs will be able to input that your son isn't 'engaging' with them.

I feel for you as it's an impossible situation and very stressful

ReallyTired Mon 22-Aug-16 02:18:17

In s secondary school environment parents don't escort the children in. I drop him off at the gate and he signs himself in. Instead of the late book I email the attendence officer to say that my son is a lazy sod who refused to get out of bed.

Weirdly I had very little grief from the school. They admire my honestly. Ds has had one authorised late when he had a nosebleed. The school sees little difference between a medical absence without a doctor's note and a parent saying their child is refusing to get out of bed. To them any absence without a medical evidence is truancy.

I want a referral to the educational welfare officer for help. The school doesn't think referral is appriopiate.

lljkk Mon 22-Aug-16 04:51:47

RT:
What is your son doing instead of aspiring to be at school: games all day, sleep, what?
Does he get any privileges at home that you can make subject to school attendance?
How bad is your son's social life at school?
What does he want to do after age 16?

I had one who refused to go to school. I know what a pain that is.
There is no penalty to parents if they refuse to go, from age 16+. So can forget about that.

Mine only got motivated for yr11, when he had reason to care about the results.

I don't think referral to EWO is going to achieve anything. PRU are really only for disturbed kids. Bolshiness about going is very common & ordinary.

Back in late 80s, teacher used to turn up regularly banging on the door to get my friend's little brother to school (chivvied, hassled, gave a lift, lad was 16-17). Couldn't happen now, sadly.

ReallyTired Mon 22-Aug-16 08:33:58

We ban access to Internet on days he is difficult about going to school. We also confiscate his tablet and phone. He is allowed limited Internet after school IF he gets to school by 10am. He can have his phone and tablet back IF he gets to school on time.

We have had some success. It's hard to completely ban Internet as so much of his homework is Internet based.

J0kersSmile Mon 22-Aug-16 08:54:32

Why should the la pay for residential for your ds? Do you know how much residential costs and how severe the issues need to be before residential is considered. It's not just a bit of bunking off.

I think you should explain very clearly what will happen without getting an education. I'd take him around to nice houses and point out nice cars he could buy with a good job that comes from good education. Teens are usually materialistic, I'd play on it.

I also would make electronics, money basically everything dependant on him going to school but refuse to argue or push him to get him there. He's to old to make him get there and you won't be fined as you're trying.

Would HE work? Would he study by himself on the computer instead of going to school?

CodyKing Mon 22-Aug-16 09:02:24

Having thought about this and red more of your posts - I get the impression the school doesn't care - so why should he?

Go higher than the head of year - speak to the head - get his attention - ask him to investigate if there's any reason behind his refusal

Also - if he misses a day - give him a jobs list - scrub floors - clean the garage etc

I would also be making him look for a Saturday or evening job - post leaflets for garden work or cleaning - tell them you want to teach your son some work ethic and pay will be minimal - so he knows that these are the sorts of jobs his future holds

Does he know what he wants to do?

Can you ring round and get him an 'interview' someone who'll look at his CV at comment on time keeping or absences and won't employ him - so he's hearing this from someone else?

If also ask school to bang on your door - someone won't be teaching - someone will have a PPA

They do this at junior schools near me

insan1tyscartching Mon 22-Aug-16 09:16:02

Can you self refer to Educational Welfare? It's possible in our LA. Dd is/was/has the potential to refuse school but it is managed at present by adjustments to her timetable and an afternoon and a part morning off every week agreed with the school. Dd hasn't refused since these were in place and her attendance was 96% last year with no lates. The part days are recorded as educated off site.
It's most likely going to be impossible to get your ds in school full time and on time and so school home and educational welfare need to work together to make it possible for your ds to attend as much as he possibly can. Dd is still on course to get highest grades at GCSE because she no longer attends during PE or History both lessons she wouldn't have chosen for GCSE anyway.

ReallyTired Mon 22-Aug-16 09:27:29

"Why should the la pay for residential for your ds? Do you know how much residential costs and how severe the issues need to be before residential is considered. It's not just a bit of bunking off. "

As a last restort parents are threatened with jail or large fines. The LEA can and does prosecute. The school has asked us to attend a parenting course. My husband is not enthusiastic to put it mildly. However the knowledge that we have a legal responsiblity and could be proscuted is making him go.

The cost of putting two parents in jail and their children into care is far higher than putting one teen into a residential PRU. Jail is hardly ever used as a punishment because the LEA knows it would ruin younger sibbling's lives. More commonly parents are fined. There is a large cost with the LEA taking parents to court which is often shouldered by the tax payer.

I feel that threat of a residential PRU for school refusing teen should be a last resort. Putting one teen in a secure PRU for extreme school refusal would act as a deterrent for those like my son whose attendence is not quite so bad. The threat of PRU might make my son choose to engage with CAMHS just like the threat of fines has made my husband attend the parenting course.

It's the principle that a fourteen year old is above the age of criminal responsiblity and should take some responsiblity for their school attendence. It's the principle of accepting that the fourteen year old is a huge part of the problem.

prh47bridge Mon 22-Aug-16 09:36:21

No parent who makes reasonable steps to get their teen in school would be jailed or even fined

I'm afraid that is not entirely correct. Parents won't be jailed if they have taken reasonable steps to get their child to attend but they can still be fined up to £1,000.

J0kersSmile Mon 22-Aug-16 09:50:09

I really disagree op.

A teenager isn't an adult, they may act like one and mess up their lives by not going to school but no way should they have a criminal record for it. It's still your job to parent your teen, stop passing the buck and being an uneffective parent. It's your husbands job to be an effective parent. He should have wanted to go on the parenting course it shouldn't have been the threat of a fine that made him go.

Residential costs more then prison as well. PRU units will cost the la about 45 grand a year, residentials cost so much more.

Parents are not going to go to jail unless they stop their dc getting to school so there's no point using that as a point in this debate.

lljkk Mon 22-Aug-16 09:55:30

Does yours actually do homework? That's terrific. Not a complete loss, then.

We took gadgets, keyboards & shut WiFi off for DS, too.

I told him that if we got fined that he would pay the fine out of Christmas gifts or pocket money or whatever. I also deducted the amount for the cost of his train pass if he didn't go in. I think those things made like 4% difference, but if 4% was all I could get, I took it.

sashh Mon 22-Aug-16 10:02:58

I don't think you realise what a secure unit is, it is for child criminals.

It is a really difficult one, a friend's son would occasionally refuse and she had MH issues and some days could not argue with him.

The school sent someone round to walk him in to school.

I can see you are in a really difficult position.

lljkk Mon 22-Aug-16 10:05:01

X post with J0kers... thing is, 10 is the age for criminal responsibility? So why should RT have that stress of criminal record threat when her son is well older than 10. How does that help her have better influence & relationship with her son. But I don't agree that residential is any solution, either. I just know how stressful this is for RT.

I predict that The parenting course for RT's DH will be full of people with serious life problems. Single parents with poor job prospects or no job, the type of people who are or who are on margin of being "socially excluded". DS2 had anger management issues so DH did a course (DS was downstairs with other angry boys doing their half of the course). DH said the other parents were all single moms completely overwhelmed with their wild boys. Meanwhile DS2 ran rings around the organisers. Perfectly amiable, but didn't cooperate or engage with the exercises.

I think DH finished that course able to manage his own temper better, fair enough, that was good for his own mental health.

Sometimes DS1 ended up in detention with the hardcore naughty kids; the only good thing about that is that he could see what problem-laden kids they were, he didn't want to be like them.

Ditsyprint40 Mon 22-Aug-16 10:06:34

Has the head ever knocked in you door? If not why not?
I know our HT would definitely not have time to do this! Pastoral leads/attendance officers and maybe even SLT might...

parents definitely can be fined in this circumstance, and if they don't pay the fine they could be prosecuted. I know this as I've issued a fine in a very similar circumstance and it had the perfect impact - the child realised the impact on the oarents and started to attend. Prior to that he didn't care and thought it was all empty threats.

What would your son think if legal action was taken against you?

What's his reasoning for school refusing? Is there any mental health concerns or anxiety or is he just doing what he wants?

I would do the parenting course - you'll be showing willing. You might learn some thing too! They are often really worthwhile.

Ditsyprint40 Mon 22-Aug-16 10:16:42

And definitely look at the motivators further ahead. How old is he?

If his attendance is truely awful, what about alternative provision? This would probably only be offered y10/11 and if his attendance is v poor as this is expensive.

Could be have missed so much that he feels like he can't catch up?
Does he have friends?
Can he identify the barriers (or can you work it out)?

Gmbk Mon 22-Aug-16 10:17:36

So the school want to punish him with detentions, you don't like this so have decided that he should become responsible?!

Obviously your son has school related issues but if you aren't cooperating with school policies then your son is bound to follow your example.

insan1tyscartching Mon 22-Aug-16 10:18:14

If he's not going to engage with CAMHS then I think you have to approach it more like lijkk. If he engages with CAMHS then I would treat the refusal as a mental health issue and wouldn't punish whilst he was getting help. Dd isn't punished or forced to go to school because hers is an anxiety issue and we have a plan in place with the school which is working for now.
I would stop the wifi, if he needs it for homework then he needs to get himself to the library and use their free wifi (it will do him good to get out of the house) and the gadgets up until he either engaged with CAMHS or attended school.
I wouldn't differentiate between getting there for 10am and refusing tbh because either way he's recorded as absent and as it stands now you are in effect rewarding him by giving wifi access when he is being marked absent unless of course that is a strategy put in place through CAMHS or agreed with the school (in which case he won't be marked absent).
It's incredibly tough but your ds has to see that opting out isn't an option and he needs to engage with the services available not necessarily to get him in school full time but to look at the underlying causes, you mention he never goes out and so that would be a concern too.

insan1tyscartching Mon 22-Aug-16 10:18:29

If he's not going to engage with CAMHS then I think you have to approach it more like lijkk. If he engages with CAMHS then I would treat the refusal as a mental health issue and wouldn't punish whilst he was getting help. Dd isn't punished or forced to go to school because hers is an anxiety issue and we have a plan in place with the school which is working for now.
I would stop the wifi, if he needs it for homework then he needs to get himself to the library and use their free wifi (it will do him good to get out of the house) and the gadgets up until he either engaged with CAMHS or attended school.
I wouldn't differentiate between getting there for 10am and refusing tbh because either way he's recorded as absent and as it stands now you are in effect rewarding him by giving wifi access when he is being marked absent unless of course that is a strategy put in place through CAMHS or agreed with the school (in which case he won't be marked absent).
It's incredibly tough but your ds has to see that opting out isn't an option and he needs to engage with the services available not necessarily to get him in school full time but to look at the underlying causes, you mention he never goes out and so that would be a concern too.

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