Reducing Truancy Makes Us Safer

Everyday, schools in California and across the nation are unable to educate far too many of our students for one simple reason: our youngest students aren’t in class. Some estimates say that approximately one million California elementary school students were truant during the 2012-13 school year.(1)

This week, my office released a major report summarizing the risks truancy poses, and presents several recommendations for what we can do to address these issues. Click here to read the report.

Truancy makes a profound difference in the safety of our communities. When our students drop out or fail to attend school, we spend additional billions in incarceration and lose productivity and tax revenues. One prominent study showed that for some chronically truant students, just one additional school day missed could reduce their chance of graduating by up to 7%.(2) Children who lack that educational foundation are more likely to end up at risk of becoming involved in crime, both as victims and as offenders.

I have long focused on combating truancy because I see a direct connection between public education and public safety. To really make the changes we need, all adults, – districts, law enforcement, schools, parents, communities – are accountable to find solutions. Only by working together can we find the solutions that our students need.

Click here to read my op-ed with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in the Los Angeles Times, highlighting some of the ways that we can work together to fight truancy.(3)

Together, we can provide brighter futures for our children and safer communities for all Californians.

Kamala D. Harris is the Attorney General of California. If you know anybody that would like to sign up for our email list, please tell them to click here to sign up to get updates and future volunteer opportunities: