Could repeatedly switching schools have a negative impact on your child? Maybe—or maybe not.
According to new research reported in Live Science that kids who frequently change schools are more likely to hear voices, have delusions, and experience other symptoms linked with psychosis when they are teenagers.
In the study, children who switched schools more than three times were 60 percent more likely to have such symptoms at age twelve, compared with kids who made fewer school moves in childhood.
It’s important to point out that study showed an association and doesn’t prove a cause-and-effect relationship between frequent school shifts and mental health problems.
Still, it’s possible that constantly being the new kid makes children feel vulnerable and socially excluded or defeated. Study co-author Dr. Swaran Singh says that could put kids at higher risk for mental illness.
Previous research has found that people who have an unstable family life, live in an immigrant community, or suffer economic hardship often feel marginalized and tend to have increased rates of psychosis.
Other studies have found that children who move from rural to urban settings have a higher risk of hallucinations, delusions and other psychotic thoughts.
Dr. Singh says it’s possible that the feeling of being an outsider is so stressful that it primes the brain for future mental illness. However, he points out that it could also be some underlying factor contributed to both the tendency to move and children’s psychosis symptoms.
So if you’re a parent who has moved a lot in recent years—don’t let this stress you out!
Dr. Singh does suggest that teachers and school counselors should keep a closer eye on the vulnerable new kids in school.
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