Matters Helping All Parents: School Achievement Week 2

Failing to attend school has significant short- and long-term effects on children’s social, emotional, and educational development. In addition, failing to attend school may have legal consequences for parent and/or child. Click here to access a list of resources for assessing and addressing school refusal and truancy.

Assessing And Addressing School Refusal And Truancy 

School refusal can be defined as the refusal to attend school due to emotional distress. School refusal differs from truancy in that children with school refusal feel anxiety or fear towards school, whereas children who are truant generally have no feelings of fear towards school, and often feel angry or bored with school instead. While these differences between the nature of school refusal and the nature of truancy exist, they both require a collaborative approach to assessment and management that includes the family physician, school staff, parents, and a mental health professional. Some other differences between school refusal and truancy are:

Interventions for School Refusal are often psychological and/or physical in nature, including education and consultation, psychotherapy, or psychopharmacology. In contrast, interventions for Truancy are often behavioral and/or legal in nature, such as behavior-management strategies. This is why it is important to use a collaborative approach that includes the family physician, school staff, parents, and a mental health professional for assessment and management of school refusal and truancy. You can find a local mental health professional by visiting