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Why Kids Skip School

Photograph by Getty Images

In a 2013 report, state Attorney General Kamala Harris noted rising truancy rates across the state of California. Harris warned that increased truancy could indicate a higher high school dropout rate, which has more than a few parents concerned.

Truancy is defined as a student missing at least a half hour of class without an excuse at least three times in one academic year, according to the California Department of Education. About six out of every 10 students in the Berkeley school district are truants.

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But let’s be honest: Every parent was once a teen, and no matter how much we press our children to be perfect, we know that we bent the rules ourselves.

We skipped school too! Come on, you can admit it. You must remember leaving school during lunch, ditching the last few classes of the day to head to the beach and goof off with your friends. For some reason the sun was brighter, the air more crisp and every french fry at McDonald’s was more scrumptious than it had ever been. The entire breadth of the beauty of youth and freedom were encapsulated by that one bold act of rebellion.

I wanted to find out why children skip school by speaking to the “big kids” who didn’t mind showing me the skeletons from their closets. I asked a few brave moms and dads to share the reasons they ditched school when they were kids. All of this is anonymous, of course, so their parents won’t find out.

“Bullying was a big problem for me as a kid,” said a 44-year-old mom from Texas. “I dealt with everything from being pushed and pinched to being called names, to having people put gum in my hair. I even have a permanent injury from being bullied, no thanks to the school for turning a blind eye. I'm just glad I no longer have to deal with that kind of behavior. Now that I'm an adult, I can take legal action.”

"I think it was just to enjoy the feeling of freedom, just driving wherever we wanted, feeling in control of our lives, even if just for an hour.”

“The classes were boring to me, and I didn't want to go. I was an A/B student. It was just really boring, so I skipped school to do whatever,” said a 34-year-old Alabama mom.

“For me it was just to be rebellious,” admitted a 50-year-old mom from California. “Obviously meeting up with friends to smoke pot and drink a parent’s liquor sounded more fun than learning geometry. But I think the most thrilling part of it was the game of sneaking out and getting away with it. When you're a teenager you see yourself as old enough to make your decisions, and going against the establishment was one way of asserting your adulthood.”

“My high school girlfriend and I went to different schools,” reveals one California dad. “She was out of school on a Friday and I was supposed to go to school but I skipped school to go have sex with her until it was time for her parents to get home.”

“Sometimes it was because I didn't want to deal with people, or because I needed to buy time for a project by faking sick, or maybe it's because I just hated school,” a Baltimore mom shares. “Why bother going and getting yelled at, or bullied, or reminded how shit my life is? I had clinical depression, left untreated due to lack of funds, so I was pretty much the type to curl up into a ball and ignore the world.”

“The only day I ever skipped was Senior skip day,” reveals a young dad from Atlanta. “We went to Stone Mountain and kicked it for a few hours.”

“As the years went by, all of my friends moved to other schools and I always ended up alone,” shared a Jersey mom. “Being the ‘alternative’ weird autistic girl, no one wanted to be my friend. And since school was already boring, I decided to go to the park, relax in the sun, feed the ducks and have them as my friends.”

“I never skipped a whole day, but sometimes we'd sneak off campus for lunch and drive around for an hour or so before coming back to class. I think it was just to enjoy the feeling of freedom, just driving wherever we wanted, feeling in control of our lives, even if just for an hour,” shared a Texas mom.

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“I skipped school a lot,” admitted a Texas dad with pride. “There was this sexy lil’ chick that I was going with in the 8th grade named Rochanda and we would go to my house or a friend's house. And I'm real surprised now that I look back on it that I wasn’t a daddy much earlier in life.”

Any of these stories sound familiar?

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