Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

New Ideas Stop Kids Wagging

Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

New Ideas Stop Kids Wagging

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Calcino

GROUPS of school-shirking youths loitering in shopping centres and parks have become all-too-familiar sights in Toowoomba.

It is a problem the State Government has been trying to solve for years, but attempts to crack down on C[pounds sterling]playing hookyC[yen] have failed to make any real impact.

Statewide school attendance rates have remained static at 91% for the past four years, with indigenous students missing school an average of 7% more often than non-indigenous students.

It is not a stand-alone issue Co a recent inquiry into child safety found bullying rates had risen to 12.6%, up from 10.3% in 2010.

If there was ever a list of incentives to skip school, the threat of bullying must be near the top.

Local programs

PCYC Toowoomba branch manager Sergeant Cam Crisp tries to inspire at-risk youths to reach their potential on a daily basis.

He said the new Toowoomba Youth Co Happy, Healthy, In Control program was already having a positive impact.

Since July, the PCYC has worked with Toowoomba primary and secondary schools to implement team-building activities with students.

C[pounds sterling]We also work with youth agencies that deal with at-risk youths,C[yen] Sgt Crisp said.

C[pounds sterling]Those kids often have lower self-esteem, so one of our goals is to give them self worth so they avoid truancy and try harder at school.

C[pounds sterling]From the results we're getting, it seems to be working.C[yen]

While community programs can play their role, much of the responsibility lies with the parents.

When Toowoomba mum Kylie Layt caught her daughter wagging school at Clifford Gardens Shopping Centre, she put her foot down.

C[pounds sterling]I questioned her when she got home because she didn't know I had seen her and she told the truth,C[yen] Ms Layt wrote on Facebook.

C[pounds sterling]I rang the school, spoke to the officer and she's been staying/going to school since. …

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