Prosecuting Parents of Children Who Have Missed School – Restorative Justice

‘It is a parent’s duty to ensure that from the ages of 5-18 years old, their children are in full-time education and attend school or college regularly. Most parents, of course, want their children to attend school, to be happy to do so, and to benefit from what school offers. But that is evidently not the case for every child. In England and Wales, the offence of truancy is committed by parents or carers of school age children whose children have not attended school regularly. Surprisingly, it is a strict liability offence – Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 sets out a parental duty to secure the efficient education of children by ensuring the child’s regular attendance at school or otherwise. If the child fails to attend school regularly the parent is guilty of an offence. Under Subsection 444 (1) the offence is strict liability; the parent is guilty even if he did not know that the child has missed school. If, for example, the child was living with her grandmother and missed school, the child’s parents would be liable for prosecution for their child’s truancy, even if they did not know she was missing school. Under Subsection 444 (1A) there is a further offence if the parent knew about the child’s absence and failed to act.’

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Restorative Justice, March 2019