Act quickly to ease school phobia in France

Parents may feel a child is just lazy, but school phobia can cause real suffering

It is not uncommon to hear the phrase “I don’t want to go to school today” at breakfast and, usually, the sentiment passes quickly, but a parents’ group says there are a growing number of children of all ages finding themselves simply unable to face going into the classroom.

Luc Mathis is president of the Assoc­iation Phobie Scolaire (phobiescolaire.org) which was formed in 2008 to help parents and children, and said “research suggested that 28% of children were affected at some point”.

“There are very few statistics and the best studies have been carried out in the US into what is often called in English school refusal or school anxiety rather than school phobia.

“This research suggests children are affected during their education to a greater or lesser degree for a short or a long period. At any moment we estimate between 1% and 3% of children are not at school because of this.

“In any sizeable collège the principal is likely to tell you there are between five and 10 students who haven’t made it in that day for this reason.”

The association defines ‘la phobie scolaire’ as a situation ...

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