Health Problems

There is ample evidence that poor health in childhood and adolescence is associated with higher risk of dropping out of high school. Good mental and physical health may be both a cause and a consequence of dropping out. Research has clearly shown that high school graduates have better health and incur lower health care costs than high school drop-outs (Belfield and Levin, 2007).

Adolescents who reported symptoms of depression (feeling depressed, lonely, sad, etc) were more likely to drop out, even after controlling for a number of other factors, including academic performance and family background (Daniel et al., 2006; Farahati, Marcotte, & Wilcox-Gok, 2003; Hagan & Foster, 2001; Menning, 2006; South et al., 2007).

Childhood physical illness, childhood mental health problems and adolescent risk behaviours are the three pathways that link health and education. Physical illnesses and chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes can prevent a child from succeeding.

Depression and illnesses can be the result of an eating disorder, heredity, family or financial situation that will contribute to the teen's lack of interest in school or class subjects.

Teens that are victims of domestic violence such as physical, verbal and sexual abuse tend to drop out of high school before obtaining their high school diploma. In most cases a number of teens experiencing abuse will runaway from home, thus causing them to drop out.

There are a number of teens dropping out high school because they require specific attention to a certain need such as ADHD or dyslexia. This reason teens drop out is predominately among densely populated public high schools where the overcrowded classrooms fail to recognize the special needs of a specific student. Traumatized students, school aged kids with psychosocial problems, neglected and abused children, vulnerable and fragile youth, wounded students, students with challenging behaviour all need special health care services which will free them from the debilitating effects of their conditions that keep them away from success at school thus leading to dropping out.

If a teacher observes a mental or physical health problem by his student he has several options in order to try to keep the student in school:

  • A school nurse should be available for students during school hours
  • Co-operation with the local health centre
  • Flexibility concerning attendance and exams for students who suffer from health problems

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