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A Closer Look at Scolionophobia
While Scolionophobia is defined as a fear of school, in some circumstances, it would be described more accurately as the fear of leaving home or parents. While many children go through clingy phases, school phobics have a longstanding fear of going to school. While the phobia is mostly about separation anxiety, it may also be caused by a fear of school life. This typically will involve fear of a staff member, pupils or schoolwork and examinations.
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Who Suffers from Scolionophobia
Scolionophobia is spread equally among males and females and is more common in elementary school children than high school students. In some cases it can affect younger children or even college age people. The fear of going to school is not related to family life, socioeconomic groups or academic ability. The most extreme form of scolionophobia is when a child refuses to go to school with this often occurring around the age of 11 or 12. In some cases, the fear of school may surface after a traumatic life event such as a death or illness in the family, loss of a pet, or a change in location.
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The Signs and Symptoms of Scolionophobia
There are a number of signs of scolionophobia and these are only present on school days. If the child is free of them on weekends and holidays, it can be taken as a sure sign that a fear of going to school is the underlying cause. The symptoms include the following:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Diarrhea and abdominal pain
- Feeling faint
- Sore throat
- Excessive crying and distress related to going to school
The child is often embarrassed by their fear and if allowed to drop out of school, may avoid contact with former school friends. If a child is forced to go to school, he may become violent towards the enforcer and lash out at them in anger.
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Treatment of Scolionophobia
While some children cannot define why they fear going to school, others have specific fears that can be addressed. These include the following areas:
- Bullying and teasing
- Fear of public speaking in class
- Undressing in front of others for gym class
- Going to the bathroom without privacy
Therapists are able to help a child overcome scolionophobia. They usually work with the child, parents and teachers and implement managing strategies. Part of the treatment may involve the child returning to school within a short period of time, but this is judged on a case by case basis. Support groups are helpful and the child is normally thankful to meet people they can identify with. In some cases, antidepressants are used while the child learns new behaviors and new ways of handling school. They cushion the child from their fears and panic while they undergo therapy.
Scolionophobia is an unusual phobia that is not commonly discussed. It can be extremely distressing for children, parents and schools and is important to seek help as soon as possible. While home schooling may work as a temporary solution, treatment is needed to give the child confidence that they can lead a normal life and function in a classroom setting.
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The Encyclopedia of Phobias. Fears, and Anxieties, Ronald M Doctor and Ada P Kahn, Facts on File Inc, 2000