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Kids who frequently change schools are more likely to experience a wide range of poor mental health symptoms. These include hearing voices, having delusions and other symptoms associated with psychosis. Children who switched schools more than three times were 60% more likely to have one or more of these symptoms by the time they turned 12 when compared to other kids.
While researchers are quick to point out that the relationship between psychotic symptoms and frequent moves are not directly related, the numbers do indicate some kind of relationship. Constantly being the new kid may make children feel unstable and socially defeated. They may also feel excluded or marginalized said co-author Dr. Swaran Singh, a mental health researcher at the Warwick Medical School in England. Mental illness may come as a result of these conditions.
While reading a study, Singh came across an offhand comment that suggested school moves might be a part of the larger problem of mental health issues coming from adolescents who felt marginalized. He tested the theory using a large dataset which included 14,000 pregnant women and their children from Avon, England starting in 1991 and following the children throughout their lives. When the children reached 12 years of age, they were asked a series of questions about psychosis-like symptoms. About 5.6% of the children reported symptoms while 8.1% had suspected symptoms. Singh noted that many children report these symptoms but usually mature out of them. But, children in the study who went through three moves or more were more likely than their peers to report symptoms.
Singh is not suggesting a change in family’s travel plans. Instead he thinks that school should identify the kids who are at risk and keep an eye on them. Knowing who will be vulnerable offers a chance at preemptive treatment.
Source: Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, LiveScience
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