Can GPS tracking devices help lower truancy rates?

For teens with a history of truancy, GPS tracking devices are a final attempt to change their behavior.

Schools in the Anaheim Union High School District (AUHSD) in California are the latest to try a novel way to improve attendance: monitoring students’ whereabouts with global positioning satellite (GPS) tracking devices.

Attendance Improvement Management (AIM) Truancy Solutions has developed a walkie-talkie-sized GPS tracking device that is able to follow students’ locations.

“The program was initially started to give counselors of chronic truants a means of verifying students’ attendance and to create more accountability for the students,” said Andy Wilson of AIM Truancy Solutions.

For teens with a history of skipping class, the GPS tracking devices are a final attempt to change their behavior before they are sent out of school and into juvenile detention centers.

Some find the program to be too similar to a penal punishment system.

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“I feel like they come at us too hard, and making kids carry around something that tracks them seems extreme,” AUHSD parent Raphael Garcia told the Orange County Register.

“It’s a criminalization of kids who have trouble getting to class every day,” Belinda Escobosa Helzer, director of the Orange County office of the ACLU of Southern California, told the Los Angeles Times.

But Wilson said the program is supportive, not punitive.

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