By Evie Blad, Image: iStock/Getty Images Plus, Education Week, September 8, 2023
As schools deal with surges in chronic absenteeism, many educators say an increase in anxiety and mental health concerns have contributed to the problem—and those factors can be difficult to address.
Psychologists use the term “school avoidance,” also known as school refusal, to describe a fear or anxiety that makes it emotionally difficult for students to attend school or to remain there for a complete day of classes. In some cases, students may have panic attacks as they get ready or refuse to leave a vehicle in the drop-off line, said Jayne Demsky, the founder of the School Avoidance Alliance.
After her own son struggled with school avoidance, Demsky created the organization, which focuses on providing resources for parents and professional development for schools. He later attended a therapeutic boarding school to aid in his recovery.