Truancy is a harbinger of violence, according to a study reported in the Baltimore Sun. Young victims and perpetrators of violent crime in Baltimore are more likely to skip school, be abused or neglected or have a history of contact with the juvenile criminal system, says the city Health Department report. The study, based on data from 2002 to 2007, sheds light on the intractable problem of youth violence in Baltimore and is part of the agency’s effort to devise ways to intervene before young people get into trouble.
The statistics show that children who were crime victims had roughly the same struggles with truancy and rates of abuse as youths who committed violence, making the two groups practically indistinguishable. About 73 percent of both victims and perpetrators had contact with the juvenile system, at an average age of 13. That correlation was about 33 percent for youths who had not been involved in violence. Evidence of truancy and abuse and neglect as early as the first grade should be the first sign that a child needs intervention to avoid a violent future.