Feb 182011
 February 18, 2011  Posted by  Surveillance, Youth & Schools

Eric Carpenter reports:

Frustrated by students habitually skipping class, police and school officials in Anaheim are turning to GPS tracking to ensure they come to class.

The Anaheim Union High School District is the first in California to test Global Positioning System technology as part of a six-week pilot program that began last week, officials said.

Seventh- and eighth-graders with four unexcused absences or more this school year are assigned to carry a handheld GPS device, about the size of a cell phone.

(To read why the devices are not strapped onto the children, and learn other facts about the program, click here for a Q. and A. with an expert.)

Each morning on schooldays, they get an automated phone call reminding them that they need to get to school on time.

Then, five times a day, they are required to enter a code that tracks their locations – as they leave for school, when they arrive at school, at lunchtime, when they leave school and at 8 p.m.

Read more in the Orange County Register.

And how will this approach help students who are school avoidant because of anxiety disorders or a medication side effect or who are cutting school because they are being bullied or harassed?  How will it help kids who are not getting to school because their parents are disorganized?  How will it help kids who are truant because they are depressed over academic or social failure?

Any child who’s chronically truant should be assessed to determine why they’re truant.  Tracking/check-in systems may work for those who are school refusers because what goes on outside of school is more interesting than what goes on in school, but the approach seems inadequate to deal with the anxious/depressed school avoiders.   Instead of investing in tracking devices, invest in school counselors and assessments.

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