Education is key to a young adult’s future success. Those who don’t focus enough on school may find that they don’t have the grades or knowledge necessary to be competitive when applying for college or seeking a job. Unfortunately, teenagers often don’t see school as a necessity but rather as an inconvenience.

In order to promote better overall attendance rates, especially among teenagers, New Jersey has taken the unusual step of criminalizing truancy or failing to attend school. As a parent of a teenager who has a history of cutting classes, learning more about the potential consequences could help you protect yourself and them from a legal headache when school resumes this fall.

What is truancy?

Truancy typically involves a student who should be at school avoiding their education. New Jersey requires that all children ages 6 to 16 attend school. Children who miss 10 days or more of school may be truant under state law.

Some students will pretend to go to school so that their parents don’t realize what they are doing, only to later head to the mall or a friend’s house instead of going to class. Other times, parents may facilitate truancy by allowing their teenager to stay home when there is no valid medical or family reason for them to do so.

What are the potential consequences of truancy?

In theory, allowing a child with a truancy issue to get into some trouble might be the motivation necessary for them to start attending class. However, your child isn’t the only one who could face consequences if they don’t go to school.

Under New Jersey Law, students accused of truancy could face fines and arrest by law enforcement. Depending on their age, the parent could be the one facing charges and fines. Parents facing truancy issues may need help dealing with juvenile court or even defending themselves in some cases.