Sex, crime fears for teens in lockdown
TEENAGE truancy, pregnancy and crime could soar as a result of school shutdowns during the COVID-19 crisis, the head of a parliamentary education probe has warned.
Federal MP for Bowen Andrew Laming, who chairs the parliamentary Education Committee's inquiry into home learning, said half the poorest students in Brisbane's south were missing out on education during the coronavirus pandemic.
He said the closure of classrooms since Easter meant some kids had "gone missing'' from the education system.
He warned that dropping out of school, or extended truancy, could result in teenage pregnancy and crime.
"With schools preoccupied with reducing attendance, they've lost the students who most need to attend, from vulnerable families,'' he said.
"There is conclusive evidence worldwide that children can spin out into teenage pregnancy, and early criminal resumes instead of academic resumes.
"Often their only lifeline to functioning society is regular attendance at school.''
Dr Laming said that 10 to 20 per cent of students were "clinging to the last carriage of the educational train''.
Dr Laming said a community centre in Brisbane's south, which did not want to be identified, had found that only 6 per cent of the children of the poorest families were going to school.
Half the families with school-aged kids told the centre they were not learning at home either, as required by Education Queensland, or had "attempted and failed'' at homeschooling.
The centre's director told Dr Laming that some families did not have access to laptops or internet.
"Some parents struggled as they felt unable to support their children as academically the work was too advanced,'' she wrote in an email.
Education Queensland has banned students from class unless they are deemed to be "vulnerable'' or are the children of essential workers who can't work from home.
Students in prep and year 1, and seniors in Years 11 and 12, were allowed back to school this week but other grades must wait until May 25.
Dr Laming's committee will investigate the switch from school to home learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Originally published as Sex, crime fears for teens in lockdown