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New Zealand

'Lazy little bugger': Mum fined over wagging son speaks

A South Otago teenager whose parents ended up in court after he repeatedly refused to go to school says he's simply "lazy" - and can't get out of bed.

Donna Davey and her former partner Shane Dryden were hauled before Community Magistrate Simon Heale in the Dunedin District Court last week after their 15-year-old continually wagged school.

The boy, who lives with Davey, was enrolled at Clinton Primary School until the end of 2017, then at South Otago High School up to May this year.

At one point last year, the teen had racked up 38 days of unjustified absence and seven days of justified absence out of 62 school days - he was off school nearly three-quarters of the time.

With every 20 days of unjustified leave, the boy was removed from the school roll.

The New Zealand Herald spoke to the teen today, who fittingly, was still in bed when interviewed.

When questioned why he didn't go to school he replied, "I can't be bothered".

"I'm lazy, I can't get up," he said.

While his mother said she felt he thought the court case was "amusing", the teen admitted that he did feel bad that his behaviour led to a prosecution and both his parents being fined $50.

When asked what he did, he said he enjoyed big sleep-ins and mucking around home.

As for what he didn't like about school, he replied, "I don't know, probably everything".

He had been enrolled in a forestry course, which he'd stopped attending, but he said he would like to get back into it "in a week or two".

In court, Heale accepted the parents had made some effort to get their child to school.

"I understand teenagers can be very difficult to coax into compliance," he said.

"But it is your obligation, till he reaches the age of 16, to have him at school."

Davey said her son was 15 "and he thinks he knows it all".

"I can't physically drag him out of bed because that would be assault on him, wouldn't it.

"We've been to court over it. The judge understood, you know, he has teenagers, he knows what it's like and our lawyer went through similar."

Davey said she had tried and repeatedly failed to get him out of the house.

"I don't know what's going through his head. He's just a lazy little bugger."

Her son never used wag so much but it seemed to become more regular as he got older.

"No, he used to attend school, it was okay, but when he got to 15 everything seemed to change for him."

The boy turned 15 in July, she said, and couldn't explain why he was so bad last year.

Davey does not work and is at home with him during the day.

She said her son didn't hang out with his friends very often but was keen to help out on a friend's farm.

"It can be a drag having a kid at home when they're supposed to be in school," she said.

"It is frustrating because he won't go to school but he does help out a mate from youth group... and sometimes he works with him on his farm."

Her son was one of four children, aged 37, 23 and 16. However, she believed her youngest son was the most difficult at getting to school.

Davey believed the $50 court fine was fair as she had always been prepared to accept responsibility for her son's behaviour.

"I said I would take responsibility for whatever comes my way. I can't physically drag him out of bed, out of the house or into the car. I don't know.

"I don't think I can do much more with that boy."

In its prosecution, the Ministry of Education had sent the teen's parents a letter threatening criminal charges.

A month later and there was no change. The teen remained unenrolled.

"Considerable effort has been made by various state agencies to ensure that the defendants enrol [their son] at school and have him attend school regularly," a summary of facts said.

The couple's counsel, Jo Turner, said the parents were "at a loss" to know what to do with their slothful teen.

"[They] have tried everything they can to get him out of bed," she said.

"He refuses to get up in the morning."

- Additional reporting Otago Daily Times

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