A two-day operation by Lower Hutt Youth Services officers this week has identified 108 students who were truanting school.
Reasons for non attendance ranged from the "I slept in" or "Didn't know I needed a lunch pass" through to those who had skipped classes and were found clothes shopping in local malls. Four students jumped fences to get away and four others provided false details.
Sergeant Steve O'Connor, Lower Hutt Police Youth Services, says police, Truancy Officers and Streetlink staff targeted local primary, intermediate and secondary schools on Tuesday and Wednesday in Operation Snap 2 as part of an on-going attempt to curb youth crime in the Lower Hutt police area.
On Tuesday the focus was in Wainuiomata and the Lower Hutt central business district. A total of 75 students were found.
Naenae and the Lower Hutt CBD were targeted on Wednesday and 33 students identified.
A similar operation was run earlier in the year.
"Word seemed to have got around by Wednesday and there were fewer students out of the school grounds. School staff were also focused on truant behaviour," Sergeant O'Connor says.
Taita College deserves special mention as Operation Snap staff didn't find one truant over the two days.
"Operation Snap staff were pleased with the attitudes of students. When asked to provide their details and return to school, almost all obliged.
"There is a small number of students who are and will likely continue to be argumentative, who will truant school and want to do their own thing," he says.
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He says further operations are likely as part of a joint police, Children and Young Person's Service, Ministry of Education and Health strategy to reduce truancy and youth crime.
Representatives from the four agencies meet monthly to identify and address the causes of youth crime. The project aims to get high risk truants, including children not enrolled in schools, reconnected to education.
Supporting strategies include referrals to drug assessment and rehabilitation services such as Weltrust, hospitals, community groups and Iwi, Family Group Conferences and working with teachers and Boards of Trustees.
"Not all truants are criminals, however most recidivist criminals begin as truants," Sergeant O'Connor says. "Identifying high risk young people and helping change their behaviours is our priority."