Dr. Demetrios Gabriel discusses the negative effects that changing schools can have on a child's mental health in response to an article published by the Washington Post on April 14th (2014).

Brooklyn, NY / myprgenie.com / ACCESSWIRE / April 20, 2014 / Dr. Demetrios Gabriel formerly of Gabriel Pediatrics, talks about how changing schools frequently can cause children to develop mental health problems of psychotic tendencies leading into their pre-teen and teen years, according to researchers in England.

The article published by the Washington Post claims that researchers from the Warwick Medical School studied over 6,500 families long-term to determine whether or not changing schools repeatedly had any effect on the mental health of children. The research titled School Mobility and Prospective Pathways to Psychotic-like Symptoms in Early Adolescence: a Prospective Birth Cohort Study concluded that "Students who as children had moved to three or more different schools were 60 percent more likely to experience at least one psychotic symptom when they were 12 years old."

Although researchers did not find a "casual relationship" between frequent school changes and increased risk of mental health in pre-teens, they did concur that several school changes increases the possibility of isolation in new environments, and bullying which can cause low self-esteem that often leads to psychotic symptoms.

Dr. Demetrios Gabriel says that children need to have a stable environment growing up, especially into their pre-teen and teen years. Although he understands that many families are forced to move under certain circumstances, a smooth transition for the children is key. He feels that many kids do not have their social tools fully developed by their pre-teens which makes jumping around from school-to-school all the more difficult.

Gabriel explains "Bullying is a huge part of mental illnesses in many kids and it seems that the 'new kids' are always a target. Reducing this social stigma to a minimum and helping children not feel isolated in a new environment is a challenge and parents should be aware of what occurs inside the social circles of every school."

Gabriel Pediatrics provided comprehensive pediatric care to children throughout the New York area with practices both in Brooklyn and Staten Island. Their board certified pediatricians and experienced staff helped provide a very warm and nurturing environment for all their patients. Their approach combined the latest treatment methods with the personal attention everyone should expect from their doctor. Simply put, we understood the importance of communication and trust and they earned that trust one family at a time.

Contact: Scott Darrohn, Takara@fishbat.com, 855-347-4228

SOURCE: Gabriel Pediatrics


      The premise that preteens and teens need "a stable environment" (for healthy development) is widely accepted. In my clinical opinion, this UK research study, the Washington Post article, and Dr. Gabriel's' response all miss the point.

      As a veteran family-systems therapist, I believe changing schools and homes frequently is a symptom of the real cause of kids' psychological injuries: early-childhood abandonment, neglect, and abuse (trauma). This study didn't examine why parenting adults caused frequent environmental changes for their kids.

      The article suggests that new-school "bullying" can cause "low self esteem." I propose that parents not teaching kids to (a) love and respect themselves, (b) set and enforce effective social boundaries, and (c) how and when to ask for help; cause excessive shame - "low self esteem."

      Opinion: these changes and injuries result from kids' caregiving adults inheriting the lethal [wounds + unawareness] cycle and unintentionally passing it on.  Lesson 1 in this nonprofit Web site proposes a practical way to break this cycle. - Peter K. Gerlach, MSW

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