by Kaden Meyer, Grace Bryson,
Emma Duncan, Megan Duncan
According to the Department of Education, over seven million students miss 15 or more days of school each year. This is more than one out of every 10 students. While students recognize and acknowledge that this national problem is an issue at Washington High School, they also know that the reasons for chronic absenteeism vary.
Absences due to school activities, the chronic medical needs of a family member, a death in the family, and personal illness can add up quickly. When a student misses a multitude of days, it impacts their academic performance and takes an emotional toll. There are also teens who miss school because of mental health issues such as anxiety or depression. While these are all valid reasons to miss school, it can lead to a lot of additional stress on any student who falls into the chronic absenteeism category. A chronically absent teen can feel left behind and overwhelmed.
Persistent absenteeism affects more than just school work. If a student misses too much school, they lack daily interaction with their peers, which is critical for their social development. Without these relationships, teens may have trouble finding independence and struggle to develop their own personal identity.
The other side of this issue are the teens who just do not feel like coming to school. They miss with unexcused absences and face the disciplinary consequences of truancy. There are many reasons why students choose to skip school that range from feeling isolated to exhaustion from excessive work hours.
As complex as this issue is, Laurie Bryson of Bryson Counseling feels that there are simple ways to help a student overcome chronic absenteeism. She believes that students, teachers, and parents must open the lines of communication and start talking about this problem. All parties involved cannot underestimate the importance of reaching out and creating relationships. When students feel valued by their teachers and peers, they are more likely to come to school.
Chronic absenteeism is an issue that cannot be solved by adults alone. We, as teens, have the opportunity to be a part of the solution. Reaching out to a classmate can be difficult, especially when the person who you are trying to connect with is not physically present. However, social media plays a major factor in communication. Reaching out to someone via social media to tell them you missed seeing them at school, or asking them via a phone conversation how they are
doing can mean so much to them. It could be that extra push that helps them decide to come to school the next day.