Constable on lookout for truants
The law states going to school is compulsory for New Zealand citizens and residents aged six to 16 and parents are responsible for their regular attendance, but there are still children in Matamata who truant.
Constable Bruce Warrender, Youth Aid Officer for Matamata, checks the area each school day and said results can vary. ‘‘Some days I don’t see any while other days there are a few more. It can depend on what is happening at school and on the weather.’’
In the three years he has been doing the job in Matamata, Mr Warrender said there had been two prosecutions of parents for their children’s truancy. ‘‘ We aren’t talking about children who are sick or attending a tangi or funeral, but unexplained absences,’’ he said.
To address regular truancy, a programme called Reduce Our Community Kids Offending Now or Rock On was first set up by Hamilton police in 2003 and is now widely used.
‘‘It’s a collaborative approach between the police, schools, local iwi, the health board, ministry of education and other agencies like Child Youth and Family, and we meet once a month during school terms,’’ he said.
Parents can now be liable for fines of up to $ 300 for first offences and up to $3000 for second or subsequent offences in relation to their child’s irregular attendance at school.