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Frequent school moves can harm children’s mental health — study

(istockphoto) (istockphoto)

A  study conducted in England concludes that children who jump from school to school frequently are at increased risk of developing psychotic symptoms when they became preteens.

 The study, titled “School Mobility and Prospective Pathways to Psychotic-like Symptoms in Early Adolescence: a Prospective Birth Cohort Study” and published online by the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, was conducted by researchers at Warwick Medical School in England. 

With data from some 6,500 families who were part of a long-term study, the researchers found that students who as children had moved to three or more different schools were 60 percent more likely to experience at least one psychotic symptom when they were 12 years old. They did not find a causal relationship between frequent school changes and an increased risk of psychotic symptoms in preteens but the researchers said that moving often can fuel low self-esteem in children who find themselves socially isolated in new environments, which can affect brain chemistry.

This news release from Warwick quotes the leader of the study, Swaran Singh, as saying:

“Changing schools can be very stressful for students. Our study found that the process of moving schools may itself increase the risk of psychotic symptoms — independent of other factors. But additionally, being involved in bullying, sometimes as a consequence of repeated school moves, may exacerbate risk for the individual.”

Cath Winsper, a co-author, was quoted as saying:

“It’s clear that we need to keep school mobility in mind when clinically assessing young people with psychotic disorders. It should be explored as a matter of course as the impact can be both serious and potentially long-lasting. Schools should develop strategies to help these students to establish themselves in their new environment.”







Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.

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