Truant begs for mother to be released from prison

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The Independent Online

A teenager whose mother was jailed because of his failure to attend school pleaded for her release yesterday, saying he was the one to blame.

A teenager whose mother was jailed because of his failure to attend school pleaded for her release yesterday, saying he was the one to blame.

The mother of the 14-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was sentenced to 28 days in prison on Monday after he did not attend lessons for three months. The child's father said he and his ex-wife had been taking the teenager to school every day, only for him to leave by another door.

The case is likely to add to protests from parent groups arguing that the law is unfair to those whose children play truant despite their best efforts to get them to school.

The boy has now promised to return to his comprehensive in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire. "I am very sorry and sad it is all my fault," he said.

"My mother has gone to prison and I am the one not going to school. I just want her to come back. It is not her fault, she is not a criminal."

David Elvy, the woman's solicitor, has lodged an appeal against the sentence. Under new truancy laws, parents can be fined as much as £2,500 or jailed for up to three months.

Carmarthenshire Council stressed the seriousness of the latest case. "This mother refused to respond to any kind of help," said Charles Thomas, the council's education welfare officer. "We welcome the sentence and we are very grateful to the magistrates in Llanelli for their support."

But Louise Harvey, spokeswoman for the group Parents Against Truancy Court Orders, said: "Our reaction is one of horror that another parent has been sent to prison ... What is needed is support from the school and the local education authority ... rather than a prison sentence."

A week ago, a woman from Cambridge was jailed for six weeks for failing to send her 16-year-old son to school. And in May last year, Patricia Amos, from Oxfordshire, was imprisoned for 60 days after her daughters played truant.

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