Saturday, July 14, 2007

Children claim truancy is “work / life balance”

A group representing schoolchildren today said it was unfair that those skipping school were branded as truants when in fact they were just supporting the wider efforts within society to have a more fulfilling life by controlling how much they work.

"I don’t like go school much ‘cos it’s like totally like stressful," said Jake, 15. "I go sometimes like when the council makes us like. But it’s like so boring that it like stresses me out about homework and exams. It should be more flexible like so we can like choose our own hours and stuff."

Several schoolchildren have petitioned their local council saying that they fear being called a truant is a stigma that forces them further from school and gives the impression that they are in some way delinquent.

"It’s like dead bad when they send these like letters to like your mum and dad and stuff." said Jake’s sister Shania, 16. "They get like really aggro about it and that’s why I want to go part time, so I can like spend more time with my daughter in the local café."

Shania says that like her brother she needs to escape stresses of the daily 9 to 3 routine and often skips lessons but wouldn’t if the right programmes were in place.

"My time is well valuable and I don’t want to get stressed or feel I am like missing out. So I hang out with my mates and shout at boys." she explained. "I might do like a work-sharing scheme, me and a couple of mates could like attend a few lessons each or something which would help with child care arrangements."

Youth groups have supported the students’ claims and are now trying to arrange a petition to be sent to the Education Minister, Ed Balls.

"Young people are being stigmatised by society just because they are trying to balance their traditional formal education with their leisure needs," said Quentin Billingsworth of the Young People’s Society for Young People. "They are being disenfranchised by an old fashioned society that thinks young people should be measured by their education and behaviour rather than how they express themselves through dress or what is on their iPod. A constant ‘long hours society’ can lead to health issues, such as existing only on Ginster’s pasties."

Mr Billingsworth revealed that his plans to submit the petition to the minister had been delayed due to politicians’ lack of suitable engagement with children, but was undaunted that it would be completed.

"The petition is taking time because, quite understandably, the young people are difficult to locate, what with many of them out expressing themselves rather than being in school," he said.

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