Some districts consider children truant only if they miss a half or full day of school, while others consider missing a single scheduled class period as truancy.
By analyzing the reasons students are truant, the school administration may be able to correct or improve the problem and reduce truancy.
Some communities have authorized the police to patrol neighborhoods where truant youth are likely to spend the school hours.
The average age of truant students is 15 years, but some children begin skipping school as young as 10.
As of 2004, no national database existed to define the number children who are truant, partly because there is no uniform definition of truancy.
Provision is made for truant, dependent, neglected and delinquent children.
Since 1850 truant and compulsory attendance laws (the first compulsory education law was passed in 1642) have been enforced in conjunction with laws against child labour.
He was not remarkable at school for application to his studies, though his wonderful memory enabled him to make good progress in them; he frequently played truant and was whipped for it, robbed orchards, and indulged in other questionable schoolboy freaks; nor did he always come out of his scrapes with honour and a character for truthfulness.
School attendance is compulsory between the ages of eight and fourteen, and is enforced by truant officers.
The law recognized that a child should not be treated like a mature malefactor, and provided that there should be no criminal procedure, that the child should not be imprisoned or prosecuted, that his interests should be protected by a probation officer, that he should be discharged unless found dependent, delinquent or truant, and in such case that he should be turned over to the care of an approved individual or charitable society.