School Phobia

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School phobia (also called school refusal) is an extreme fear or anxiety about going to school and subsequent refusal to attend.  There are many different causes for school refusal. 

Very young children are reluctant to leave their parents and experience separation anxiety, which may result in school refusal.  Older children can experience social phobias or be embarrassed about something that happened in school.  For example, the child may have thrown up, or may have been made fun of by his or her classmates.

Below are some other possible causes of school phobia:

Being bullied--laughed at, verbally abused, or physically threatened
Starting at a new school or new school district
Bereavement--loss of a family member, a family pet, etc.
Illness in the family--mother or father sick, depressed, etc.
Being "lost" in class and unable to perform up to anticipated standards
Family problems, such as divorce, separation, fighting
Not doing well in school--failing, unable to read at level, etc.
Being unpopular and rejected by peers
Embarrassment in school from something the child said or did

Over time, children with school phobia may begin making up more and more excuses to stay home from school.  Adolescents may  even start "skipping school" altogether for longer and longer periods of time.  Generally speaking, the more often the child is permitted to stay home and avoid going to school, the more difficulties the child will eventually have and the likelihood is that he or she will continue to avoid going to school.