School refusal in children and teenagers happens quite often. According to research, up to 5 percent of children have school refusal, which can occur at any age, but is more common at ages 5, 6, 10 and 11. School refusal is not a formal psychiatric diagnosis, but often associated with mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, which prompts these children to be seen by a psychiatrist.
I had never encountered this term until last week when, in the course of trying to do something to help a troubled teenager, I had a conversation with a counselor at a school for special needs children who mentioned school refusal and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). These terms seem to have replaced “wayward child” and the like.