If divorce wasn’t tragic enough for kids, add the possibility of changing schools. Having to switch schools often accompanies a parents’ split, but how detrimental really is it?
Bad enough that it may cause may cause mental health issues later in life? That’s what researchers out of the Warwick Medical School at the University of Warwick in the UK suggest.
Their 2014 study, published in the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, interviewed 12-year-old students to discover whether they had experienced psychotic-like symptoms (hallucinations, delusions and thought interference) in the previous six months. Students who had changed schools, three or more times during their childhood, were 60% more likely to display at least one of the symptoms.
According to one of the researchers, Professor Swaran Singh, “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.”
A 2016 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine looked at almost every single person born in Denmark between 1971 and 1997 to investigate how moving in childhood affected outcomes later in life.
They focused on a number of negative outcomes such as, suicide attempts, criminality, psychiatric disorders, drug abuse, and unnatural mortality. Moving during childhood was linked to increased incidence of all of those, later in life. Moving multiple times in a single year made long-term harms even more likely.
The group of youngsters most likely to feel the negative effects of moving were in early adolescence, between 12 and 14. A child who goes through a residential move at age 14 has double the risk of suicide by middle age. The risks of engaging in violent crime and abusing drugs, more than doubles. These risk ratios hold true even after the study factored in parents’ income and psychiatric history.
This study focused on moves that would require a child to change schools. The researchers argue that crucial fact goes a long way toward explaining the results.
British researcher Roger Webb and his colleagues write that, “Relocated adolescents often face a double stress of adapting to an alien environment, a new school, and building new friendships and social networks, while simultaneously coping with the fundamental biological and developmental transitions that their peers also experience,”
However, this study did not include the reasons for the move; so the stress of parents’ divorcing and moving combined, was not examined.
When children have to switch schools they face a host of difficulties from losing friends, the pressure to make new friends, their academic progression being disrupted, and, in some cases, their hobbies/recreational activities being restructured.
It is important for parents and other family members to be sensitive to this experience and make every effort to make a child’s transition to a new school a relatively painless one. As always, the happier your child is – the happier you are!
If you are the parent or just need some advice on the law, contact the lawyers at Lightning Legal Group today – we are experienced criminal and family law practitioners ready to take on your case with great care and skill. Give us a call at 505-247-2390 for a free consultation.