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Parents of Repeat Truants Must Be Jailed

Parents of Repeat Truants Must Be Jailed

Tuesday 14 May 2002 Donna Awatere Huata Press Releases -- Primary & Secondary Education

The Government must copy Britain and jail parents of repeat truants, ACT Education Spokesman MP Donna Awatere Huata said today.

Mrs Awatere Huata is drafting a private members' bill that would do so.

For the first time Britain has jailed a woman because she made no effort to keep her children at school. She will be imprisoned for 60 days. In New Zealand, the maximum penalty for parents who don't send their children to school is a $150 fine.

"New Zealand must follow Britain and take a Zero Tolerance approach to truancy.

"There is a close nexus between crime and truancy. Crimes committed by children have jumped by 4,000 in just twenty-four months. The long-term truancy service is hunting for at least 1,000 more children than five years ago. We have completely lost track of more than 500 children since January 2001.

"Trevor Mallard's Ministry of Education has not attempted to prosecute a single parent since the election. The Ministry doesn't even have any employees trained how to prepare, research or pursue prosecutions.

"The reason we have legislation to prosecute parents of truants is to counter dysfunctional families that sneer at education, and to deter other caregivers from neglecting their young children.

"Two things must happen. The Ministry must prosecute, and penalties must increase.

"I will be drafting a private members' bill to replace our pathetic penalties with the threat of jail for parents who make no effort to send their young children to school," Mrs Awatere Huata said.

ENDS


For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.


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