School can be hellBMJ 1998; 317 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.317.7163.956 (Published 03 October 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:956
- David Hartman, consultant adolescent psychiatrist, Leatherhead
I have two children of my own. They are 4 and 7, and they seem to enjoy the social and intellectual stimulation of school. But not all children enjoy school, and many do not feel that they are learning anything useful. This seems to be especially true of secondary schools, which are much less nurturing and less fun than primary schools. When I encounter teenagers who are not going to school, they will often be able to articulate understandable reasons for non-attendance, and the classic label of school phobia does not seem to fit in the way that it does with younger children. There is no irrational fear of an innocuous stimulus. Instead, I hear stories of frightening playgrounds, friends who taunt them, steal their personal possessions, even assault them, lessons that …
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