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"The Truants" (1796). Two boys are reported to their father for playing truant and stealing pears.

Truancy is any intentional unauthorized absence from compulsory schooling. The term typically describes absence due to a student's own free will, and usually does not refer to legitimate "excused" absence, such as one related to medical conditions. The term's exact meaning differs from school to school, and is usually explicitly defined in the school's handbook of policies and procedures. Some schools consider a student who is in school but does not attend classes (e.g. loitering around the campus, playing hide-and-seek in school etc) as playing truant as well.

Beyond the effect that missed schooling may have on a student's educational attainment, truancy may indicate more deeply embedded problems with the student, the education system, or both. Truancy is commonly associated with juvenile delinquency. In some schools, truancy may result in an ineligibility to graduate or to receive credit for class attended, until the time lost to truancy is made up through a combination of detention, fines, or summer school. In the worst case, a student who constantly plays truant may be expelled (since he/she does not even want to be in school anyway).

Truancy is a frequent subject of popular culture; perhaps most famously Ferris Bueller's Day Off, which is entirely about the titular character's (played by Matthew Broderick) day of truancy in Chicago with his girlfriend and best friend. Truancy is also the title of a 2008 novel about a student uprising against a dictatorial educational system.

List of slang expressions[edit]

There are, internationally, a number of expressions in English which refer to truancy. In Australia, truancy is called wagging and/or jigging. It is called skiving in England, bunking in British English as used e.g. in India and Scotland, and mitching in Ireland. In the United States and Canada expressions include (playing) hookey, ditching, pipping off, skipping or cutting class.

Dealing with truancy[edit]

In the United Kingdom, a police officer who suspects a child of the correct age to be deliberately missing school for no legitimate reason has the power to take that child to the school he/she is supposed to attend.[1] Failure to secure regular school attendance of a registered pupil is a criminal offense for parents.

In the United States, many states appoint truancy officers and authorize them to arrest youths who habitually play truant and bring them to their parents or to the school they are supposed to attend. The post of a 'truancy officer' is often held by a constable or sheriff. However, the position of a full-time truancy officer is generally viewed as being a relic from the 19th century when mandatory school attendance was relatively new. Truancy regulations today are generally enforced by school officials under the context of parental responsibility.

In Germany, the parents of a child absent from school without a legitimate excuse are notified by the school. If the parents refuse to send their child to school or are unable to control their child, local child services or social services officers may request the police to escort the child to school, and in extreme cases, they can petition a court to partially or completely remove child custody from the parents. Parents may also be fined in cases of refusal.

Truancy and spanking[edit]

A child is likely to be punished by a spanking from his/her parents if he/she is caught playing truant.

In some Asian schools, truancy is regarded as a very serious offense, and the student is likely to face stern punishment. In Singapore and Malaysia, schoolboys caught playing truant may face formal corporal punishment (caning on the seat of their trousers/shorts) after the school has sought their parents' consent. Schoolgirls, however, cannot be caned according to the law, and they will receive detention instead.

Punished for Playing Hooky (Momma Spankings, 2017) and Bunking Off Bible Class (Triple A Spanking) are examples of adult spanking videos based on this theme.

See also[edit]


  1. The Beat Companion, 12 Edition 2006