, Volume 41, Issue 12, pp 1671-1684
Date: 06 Jul 2012

Who Are Truant Youth? Examining Distinctive Profiles of Truant Youth Using Latent Profile Analysis

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The present study explored the heterogeneity of truant youth to provide a more nuanced examination of the nature of adolescent truancy and examine distinct profiles of truant youth as they relate to externalizing behaviors. Latent profile analysis was employed to examine the heterogeneity of truant youth by using a nationally representative sample of 1,646 truant adolescents (49.8 % female) from the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Five key indicator variables were utilized to identify latent classes: school engagement, participation in school-based activities, grades, parental academic involvement, and number of school days skipped. Additionally, multinomial regression was employed to examine the relationship between latent truant youth classes and externalizing behaviors. Four classes of truant youth were identified: achievers (28.55 %), moderate students (24.30 %), academically disengaged (40.89 %), and chronic skippers (6.26 %). Additionally, group membership was found to be associated differentially with marijuana use, fighting, theft and selling drugs. Results from the present study suggest that truant youth are not a homogenous group, but rather present with different risk profiles as they relate to key indicators, demographic characteristics and externalizing behaviors. Implications for practice, policy and future research are discussed.