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School Refusal

  • By: Leslie Z. Paige
  • In: Encyclopedia of School Psychology
  • Edited by: Steven W. Lee
  • Subject:School/Educational Psychology (general), School Psychology, Educational Psychology

School refusal is used to describe behaviors associated with children who refuse to attend school for many reasons. Estimates of prevalence generally range from 2% to 5%. School refusal may happen at any age, although it is most commonly associated with school transitions (such as preschool to elementary school, elementary to middle school, etc.) or following stressful events (divorce, death, move) or holiday recesses. Children with poor academic or social skills may also be at a higher risk.

The severity of school refusal behavior varies, ranging from frequent complaints and reluctance to attend school, to frequent absences for entire or partial days, to more severe instances of absences for weeks, months, or even longer. Many school refusers complain of somatic ailments such as headaches or stomachaches.

Although ...

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