Central Bucks hires social worker to tackle absenteeism
Area school districts say absenteeism is an increasing worry, as more students express anxiety and depression.
by Freda Savana
For a growing number of children, going to school is becoming an insurmountable challenge. School absenteeism is posing an ever-greater concern as educators cite anxiety, depression and other mental health concerns among causes keeping kids at home.
While getting kids to school from time to time has long been a challenge, chronic absenteeism — sometimes referred to as “school refusal” — is something different, say teachers, counselors and social workers.
“Anxiety rates are significantly on the rise,” said Christine Marston, a Buckingham psychologist. “I’ve had a number of teens in therapy with me who have struggled with getting to school due to their anxieties.”
Teens, said Marston, often miss school because their anxiety interferes with their sleep, their appetite and nutrition, which can lead to headaches and stomachaches. Panic attacks, which can be a frightening experience, also can contribute to children’s resistance going to school, Marston said. Fearing they could have an attack at school only heightens their anxiety.
It sounds like going into a war, not school. But when your whole life is grades and achievement, school can be your battleground.
“Anxiety was the most prominent condition that students were reporting,” [Central Bucks School District director of special education] Mary-Kay Speese said. “This results in anxiety-based behaviors such as chronic absenteeism, truancy and an overall disconnect with school attendance and performance — with our secondary schools presenting the largest percentage, 8 to 10 percent, of absenteeism due to these issues.”
Read the rest of the article here. And then send your kids off on an errand or something else that reminds them there's a bigger world out there than just school. -L