Truants have been dealt with by state and school officials with heedlessness, suspension, expulsion, and placement under the power of the courts. One problem faced in decreasing truancy is its lack of a common definition. Statistics show high rates of truancy with kids who subsequently drop out of school and there is a strong correlation between drop-out and unemployment, welfare, low salary, and imprisonment. The juvenile justice system does not reach the root of the truant’s individual problems or adequately attempt to solve or assist the child and family in its goal to develop constructive and autonomous individuals.
Mediation is an alternative to a punishment-oriented approach to truancy. Mediation is a process in which a neutral third party helps participants reach their own agreement for resolving a dispute. Mediation is adaptable to the many different causes of truancy and can provide multiple benefits to truants and their families. The Ohio Commission On Dispute Resolution & Conflict Management has the most accomplished and consistently progressing truancy mediation program in the nation.
Critics of mediation have scrutinized the process for not placing enough emphasis on mediation’s major elements, such as pre-mediation instruction, exploiting the informality of the process, and that a lack of funding can render mediation weak and inefficient. Maintaining and emphasizing particular elements will benefit jurisdictions in their utilization of the process.
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