12 year old skipping school

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Michelle0826, Feb 17, 2011.

  1. Michelle0826

    Michelle0826 New Member

    I have joint custody 12 my year grandaughter with- ex-wife with whom she resides. My grandaughter often refuses to go to school - just won't get up. My ex-wife is scared to try to force her to go - my grandaughter is a big strong girl - already bigger and taller than my ex. Also, she often just walks out of school in middle of day. My ex will call her into school saying "She refuses to go". I have her in counseling and the school is aware of the problem - she also sees school counselor. Also, she doesn't turn in any homework or assignments. When she does her work she is an A or B student, however, she just would prefer to stay home and talk on her cell phone, sleep, go on computer etc than go to school.

    Example - her 6th grade class (she is repeating 6th grade because she missed so many days last year) has a field trip tomorrow. However, because she has had 4 unexcused absences in last 2 weeks the school is not permitting her to go. I spoke to school counselor today and the counselor told me that my grandaughter told her, "If I can't on trip than I'm not coming to school tomorrow". The counselor told her she can't do that - but reality is she can and will refuse to go tomorrow morning - my ex-wife already called to tell me that my grandaughter has told her she is not going tomorrow, and the school won't act on this either.

    What are my options? I can't go over there and drag her kiciking, screaming and fighting out of the house. Once you try to make her do something she doesn't want she becomes very stubborn - will kick dashboard in car break rearview mirrors etc.

    I feel there is no support from school as far as suggestions. She is a bright girl and as long as your not trying to force her to go to school or do anything else she doesn't want to do she is fine. I believe she has just learned that my ex will give in if she fights hard enough and then she can get her way. Sometimes she will stay home and invite other kids over while my ex is at work and make a mess of the house etc.
  2. Jena

    Jena New Member


    does she have any diagnosis?? and welcome by the way....... sounds like school phobia bigtime. my daughter experienced that since pre k. it's rough when they get older and you cant lift them anymore into the car/truck to go to school.

    has she had any testing done yet, evaluations privately or by the school? does she have an iep at school or a 504 plan? that's important because than they can sit down and come up with ideas as to rewards etc. or provisions to help get her into the building. has anyone asked her why she doesnt' want to go, what's bothering her?

    school phobias a hard one especially when they get bigger. i'd document everything though also regarding days that she isnt' able to be brought to school due to a stand down just to be safe regarding days missed at school and reasons why.
  3. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    To me this doesnt sound like school phobia as much as defiant kid. Unless you have some sort of actual diagnosis that specifies that she has a mental health issue that makes it difficult for her to actually attend school, such as severe anxiety or some sort of sleeping disorder, then I would start rocking her world on this issue. What she is doing is illegal. Her job is to go to school. As her guardians, you are required to see that she attend the mandated number of days or you can be held legally liable. They can fine you or throw you in jail. They can also remove her from your custody.

    I would simply call the school and tell them that she is refusing to go to school and ask for the truancy officer to come get her. If they wont do that, go to the court house and file a CHINS order on her. That is a Child in Need of Supervision order which will get her a probation officer which will force her to comply with his orders or keep being brought before the judge. That will keep you from being held responsible for her not going to school and put the onus back on her. The probation officer will come out and drag her butt to school. I would imagine your granddaughter wont like too many mornings of that. The cops or probation officers dont much care if she has her pajama's on or if her hair isnt done.
  4. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Take away the cell phone, the computer, the tv. As Janet said, rock her world. She needs to understand that going to school is not optional. It would be best if you and grandma presented the new rules to her as a team.

    When did you get custody? Where are her parents? Do they have mental illness? Has she ever been diagnosis with mental illness? Has she ever had psychiatric or neuropysch testing? Is she in counseling? Is she on medications?
  5. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Yup, ask the school to come get her. The one time my difficult child refused to go to school. I had the principal pick her up. She was mortified so much that she never did it again.

    Your Ex can get into trouble for not sending her to school. I believe it is a law.
  6. PatriotsGirl

    PatriotsGirl Guest

    At 12 years old, nip it in the bud now. Take it from me. She can't go to school? Then she certainly can't talk on the cell phone, be on the computer, watch tv, etc. If that doesn't work, remove everything from her room but a mattress and essentials until she starts contributing on her end - in this case, going to school. You only need to provide a roof over their head, clothes (of your choice), food, etc. If she gets violent, call the police immediately. She sounds defiant and the longer you allow her to rule the roost, the worse she is going to get.
  7. Bunny

    Bunny Guest

    If she won't go to school, she should not be allowed to use the computer, watch television, or talk on her cell phone. She is refusing to go to school and home should not be fun because she is being defiant. What would happen if your ex puts your granddaughter in the car and drives her to school? Can the counselors come out and take her into the building? And how is she able to just walk out of school in the middle of the day? Why isn't someone watching her if they know that she does this?

    I think that busywend is right that you ex can get into trouble is she continues to allow your grandaughter to stay home from school. Educational neglect.

  8. svengandhi

    svengandhi Well-Known Member

    I'm very concerned that she is having other kids who are cutting school come over and hang out during the day. This opens your ex and possibly you up to liability if one of these kids is hurt at your home or if they find ex's liquor or medications and use them.

    She should not be allowed to be in the home while your ex is not there. The house should be locked up tight and if you don't already have one, an alarm should be put on and she should not be given the password. I wouldn't take away her computer yet, but I would put a keylogger program of some sort on it to track where she goes and what she does. I'd put a gps locator on the cell phone as well to track her. How does ex know she stays home. Maybe she is going out and hanging with adult men. You might want to hide a nanny cam or two to see what she does in the house when she's alone (though she shouldn't be).

    Do you get $ for taking care of her? Use some of it to hire a female former marine to come by in the morning and get her to school. Then have ex lock the house up. Once she's in school, the school is liable if she leaves during the day. Get her there and then let them handle it.

    Maybe a more restrictive program would help?

    I also wonder where her parents are that you have custody. Did they die in an accident (in that case, maybe she is having some reaction to that and it's fear/anxiety vs. defiance), are they addicts (was she born addicted?), were they teenagers who have no use for her or something else?

    I feel for you and your ex. I went through a limited period of school refusal with my oldest which worsened for a while when we switched him to an alternative HS. Finally, he adjusted and now, at 20, most of his friends are kids he met through or at the alternative school.

    One last thought, if the other kids know she was held back, she might be humiliated and not wanting to go to school if she is being teased about that. If that's the case, maybe she could move to another school where kids wouldn't realize that and she could say she was held back by her family, not her grades. One of my sons did K twice - he was started early because he was so bright but I decided to have him repeat with his age cohort because it turned out that he's dyslexic. At his birthday party in 3rd grade, kids were telling him that he couldn't be turning 9 because he was "left back" and did K twice so he had to be 10 and lying about it (he's big for his age anyway). I was there and was able to explain but I could see the panic and humiliation in my son's face when he thought other kids believed him to "be dumb." I can easily see that turning into a school refusal type of situation.
  9. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Chronic truancy is proven to be an indicator of future problems with law enforcement. This is a serious situation that is indicative of issues that have to be addressed pronto. Another thought is that she may already be into alcohol or drugs. Yes, I know, she is only 12 but life is fastpaced and our very precious and seemingly close to perfect gs chose that path. He was diagnosed as the youngest alcoholic every accessed at the addictions center and sadly his whole life has been ruined by addictions. Many young kids start using pills that are in parents homes. Often they can get booze by having young adults purchasing it for them. It's a scarey situation and one that just can't be ignored. Sexual activity also beings very young. Best of luck. DDD
  10. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    My son was in 8th grade and managed to miss 88 days. I would literally either put him on the Special Education bus. You know, the short one, which should have been able to keep an eye on him. Or I would physically drive him to school where he was in a self contained classroom. At the school I would get out of my car, walk him into the school, physically hand him to the teacher by placing his hand into the MALE teachers hand and tell them "Here, he is yours and I am leaving him in your custody." Then I would go back to my car, drive to my job. He had to be at school by 7:30 or so. I would be in my office and some of my co-workers didnt have to be in until 8:30 and I would have them tell me that they saw my son walking someplace in town!

    I would wait about an hour and call the school. Yep...he wasnt there. How pray tell can a kid who is in a self-contained classroom go missing after the first couple of times? And why didnt they call me? I couldnt leave work all those days to go look for him either. He would wander all over my small town finally showing up either at home or back at school to get a ride home. I wanted them to fail him for 8th grade due to absences but they wouldnt. I had been telling him all year long that if you miss over so many days (as it says in the handbook) that you will fail. Again...they made a liar out of me.
  11. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    You can also get into trouble if she skips school, not just your ex. Both of you will be called to explain the absences. it is VERY serious. I know quite a few kids in my classes who started drinking and using drugs around 10-12. My brother became an alcoholic at age 12. He tried to sell me to the older kid across the street for a 6pk of beer when he was 12. The older boy (14 or 15) was the son of an alcoholic who kept their basement as a "guy's only" den. Their daughter was forbidden to go there because the boys abused her there (they didn't believe it happened but made it boy's only because they didn't want to listen to her complain about being sexually assaulted - I heard tehm many times tell her she made it up. I never bothered telling my parents because I already knew gfgbro would deny and they would not believe me - I just stayed away as much as I could. I did defend myself against the older boy - have wondered how explained teeth shaped scars to the women in his life, sick as that is. I know from his sister that one woman broke up with-him because them. Then I lost touch with them on purpose.

    This basement room had a fridge that was fully stocked with beer and liquor at all times. Once the boys were 12 the dad let them drink pretty much what they wanted as long as they didn't take the last 6pk of beer.

    The first person I ever knew got treatment for addiction was a boy in my class - we were 12 and he regularly brought a handful of uppers and downers to school. His mom had rx's for them and was thrilled to let him and his bro have them because they were easier to handle when they were stoned. We were in a "good" Catholic school at the time, not the public schools that had a rep for drug use.

    Your difficult child is at HUGE risk home all alone. Not just because it is easy for her to get and use drugs/alcohol, but also because anyone could join her and hurt her. It is time to sit with the school and demand that they start to help. Call every morning and if she is not in school demand that they send a truant officer. Your ex may HATE this, but it is the right thing to do. Report this to CPS if your ex will not take a harder line or calls your difficult child in "sick" on any regular basis. Not taking these steps can result in real legal problems for you - you MUST keep good records (including names of people you speak to and what they say - send email or letters confirming the discussion as a way to keep documentation of verbal communication.) of your efforts for when the court gets involved. It WILL happen at some point. Depending on your profession this could have a real impact on your job. Either the public opinion or some companies put parents on probationary status if legal issues arise in their home lives. If you have a job that depends on any type of security clearance or bonding, it can be an even bigger problem - in spite of the fact that she doesn't live with you. These are things that you might not be aware of but that could be big problems.

    does she have a facebook page? If so, check it out. If you don't want her to know, create a page for yourself with no picture and a fake name/personna. Yes, it is trickery, but it will let you see what is going on. Kids are often dumb enough to post evidence of what they are doing on facebook and similar sites. Myspace is still around though not very popular, and so is xanga.com - less popular but a friend's son and his buddies tried to use it for stuff they wanted to hide from their parents - in addition to a facebook page that showed only things that would be okay to parents. The child is 10 and got all his friends to follow him.

    Insist that your ex put a keylogger program onto the computer, and put the same software on yours so that you can monitor her on each of your computers. Take away EVERYTHING. You are legally required to provide 7 outifts, 1 pr shoes, 1 coat, 1 hat/gloves if needed for the weather in your area, a mattress, a pillow, a blanket, and food. Plus a light in her room - ceiling light or a lamp. Food needs to be nutrition (like school lunch definition of nutritious - not real world definition) but NOT be what she wants/prefers. Until seh starts attending school regularly and getting decent grades she does NOT deserve any extras - no tv, video games, music, toys, baubles, etc.... It will be tough for your ex as she clearly is not able to exert as much control at this point, so she will NEED your very involved support. It is goign to be a HUGE commitment for both of you. I owuld make double darn sure that your ex has a deadbolt and a sturdy door on her bedroom and that she uses it at all times - esp at night. angry kids are impulsive and your daughter will be very angry when you crack down on her. It may even be needed for you to sleep on her couch for a while if that is feasible, or for the difficult child to live with you for a while.

    If at all remotely possible, take a day or two off of work and ehlp your ex clean out difficult child's room and get her possessions out of the house. Either lock them in a shed or separate building on your ex's property or on your property or rent a storage unit. Put a new lock on whatever you use to store the items - you may even need to keep the key on your key ring and not leave it at the ex's so difficult child cannot search and find it and she doesn't already have a copy. Many storage places recommend that you use a lock that is circular instead of the traditional padlock shape. Still uses a key, but they are harder to cut open. http://www.amazon.com/Master-Lock-4...KX/ref=sr_1_17?ie=UTF8&qid=1298326236&sr=8-17 This link will show you what I am talking about. The storage places here insist on these because they get a break on their insurance if they do. Our police also recommends them.

    School refusal may be what is happening and it is different from skipping to party. Both can be happening at the same time, but school refusal is a psychological problem that is often caused by anxiety. Many kids with school refusal have panic attacks and/or vomit at school from the anxiety,etc... This needs to be addressed by a psychologist at the same time that you are doing the other things. She shoudl NOT be allowed to go do things with friends, etc... unless she earns the privilege with her school attendance and behavior - shcool and home behavior. She should be allowed to earn her things back 1 at a time by going to school, staying at school once she is there, participating, etc... Make her work the hardest for the things with screens - tv, video games, etc.... You may want to let her have a cd player but limit what she is allowed to listen to. Classical music can be very soothing and calming though she may hate it. Even at his worst, my difficult child often benefitted from having classical music played at a low volume in the background.

    You also need to drug test her. It should be a surprise and your ex will need to watch her as she urinates - it is very very easy to get urine from someone you know is not using. while it is possible for the doctor's office to do this, I would use a kit from the drugstore or walmart. The most comprehensive one you can afford. You will have to mail it off, but it will go to a lab that specializes in drug tests. I am on medications for a chronic health condition that is very very painful. My pain doctor warned me that most labs are not able to do a drug test properly because they are very complicated. I have NEVER used an illegal drug in my life. I have been around others smoking pot, but never used it - even being around it puts me to sleep so why bother? I could sleep at home - why would I want to at a party? I had a problem because I was on medications that could not be stopped suddenly with-o causing huge problems and I had the flu and a bad migraine so I was with-o the medication for close to a week. On the 4th day my husband called 911 because I was erally sick. The drug test done at the hospital showed METH - I have never even seen meth to my knowledge. After i was released (with the doctor insisting that I see a psychiatrist - which I already was doing, etc...) I had my reg doctor do a separate drug test. It didn't show meth but showed me taking other drugs I have NEVER taken and one medication that I took decades ago but not since. I was truly scared. I hadn't been out of my house for a couple of weeks because I had been sick, but I couldn't ifgure out why these things were showing up. I even wondered if the pharmacy had messed up my medications somehow. When I went to my pain doctor the next week I took the results with me. He laughed.

    Yup. The doctor LAUGHED. He said that this is EXACTLY why his office does not use a local lab at the nearby hospital. It is incredibly easy to get false positives and strange results on drug tests. Most labs are not even familiar enough with drug testing to know this is possible, much less how often it happens. I had seen him for several years by this point and we have a great relationship - we trust each other. He explained that the meth result was because I was taking phenergan - (promethazine) for nausea. I react oddly to calcium and have to take phenergan or it won't stay down. The medication that I hadn't taken in years showed up because one of my current medications is broken into that medication as it is processed in the body. NOTHING in the results was accurate - they didn't show medications I was taking and showed medications I wasn't. I could have been ARRESTED because these results and they were FALSE!! It was really scary to realize it. Now I will only have this testing done by his office. Period.

    The lab he uses is one that processes tests from the drugstore kits and is very accurate. The specimin containers have to be filled to a certain level and there is a thermometer sticker on the side. They have to record the temp of the sample when collected to help ensure it is actually from the right person. They also process each test more than once.

    All of these things are important. Your ex has likely been worn down by your difficult child to the point that she won't be able to do this with-o a LOT of help and support from you. It is a HUGE challenge that you are both facing. You should each see a therapist AND see one together. It iwll be an investment in your difficult child - if you are not able to work together than you have no chance to help the child.

    difficult child also needs a COMPLETE evaluation and an IEP if she does not have one. An IEP will provide supports and accommodations at school to give her the tools she needs to learn. If she doesn't have one, you need to send a letter asking for evaluation and testing and an IEP. You can find a sample letter in the Special Education 101 forum archives - just put the right names in and send it. Read up on how to send it to provide the legal protection that she deserves during the testing period.

    Also get a copy of the following books: The Explosive Child by Ross Greene - this is our "bible" of sorts. It explains collaborative problem solving and may seem counter-intuitive as a method of raising a child but it is very effective. many of us have gotten much better results with this than we did with more traditional methods. What Your Explosive Child Is Trying To Tell You by Douglas Riley is another amazingly helpful book. It can help you figure out why your child is explosive and then help you help her not need to react that way. Parenting with Love and Logic by Fay and Cline is also excellent. It stresses using logical consequences while preserving the loving bond between parent and child. It may not seem apparent at first, but you can use this with the Explosive Child methods. It was the ONLY parenting book that made ANY sense to my husband. Many of my friends have said the same thing - it seems to turn on that lightbulb and enable us to be on the same page as parents.

    You can learn more about love and logic at www.loveandlogic.com . They have a lot of books (can buy from them or from any bookstore or online retailer. If you buy from amazon please use the link on the forum to go to amazon as this helps to support the site. NOT required, of course.:D) and most are even availble on audiobook. They also have a lot of free stuff for parents and for teachers. I attended a seminar a few years ago that was truly incredible. I got a lot of help even though most of the audience was teachers.

    Last three things (promise!).

    Make SURE your ex has some time every week or so that she can go do something just for HER. Some time wehre you take care of difficult child and she doesn't have to worry about a phone call or whatever. If it is a time when difficult child has a club or team practice or something that is fine as long as they know to call YOU and not her. She is under fire 24/7 since difficult child is living with her. Even at work she is worried about what difficult child is doing and when that phone is going to ring with something she has to deal with because difficult child is being a difficult child. She NEEDS this time. If you cannot do this, find someone and pay them to be there. Check at a local college for an education major (sp ed major would be heaven sent) if you don't know someone who can help.

    Second - the link in my signature is to a Parent Report. Years back some of the Warrior Moms here came up iwth an outline for a report that would keep all of the info and details about a difficult child in one place. Including what you have tried and how it did or didn't work. This iwll help you and your ex keep all the info easily accessible and let you communicate with the docs, teachers, etc... very effectively.. Work on it in chunks instead of all at once as it is just too much to do at one time. Have your ex help so that you get everything down. It truly is priceless.

    Lastly - YOU and YOUR EX are the experts in your difficult child. Period. Docs, therapists, etc... are experts in their fields but NOT in your child and how she will act/react. If/when they want soemthing to happen that your gut screams is NOT a good thing, follow your gut. It won't be easy because they will be "sure" that their way is the only way. They see your child for a small window of time every couple of months or maybe every week. YOU and your EX spend hours and hours with her and have for years. do NOT let yourselves be intimidated. Like many others here, the really big mistakes I made as a parent happened when I ignored my instincts. I firmly believe that we have instincts about our children for a reason. Whether it is from God or it is just biology I don't know, but those instincts are there to make sure that our kids live as long as possible in the best way possible. Don't ignore them or if you must ignore them then monitor the situation as closely as possible and question everything until your instincts quiet or you put a stop to whatever it is.

    I hope you can use some of this. Take what will help and let the rest go. I am glad to meet you and your difficult child is a very lucky young lady to have you and her grandmother caring for her so much. You may want to invite your ex to this forum for support. We have a few couples on here - Marg and Marg's Man most notably. It is a great way to stay on the same page, esp as you are in different households.