School Phobia and School Refusal
Specific family factors have been linked with SRB. These include birth order, family size, marital problems and status, and parental psychopathology (Kearney 2000). In terms of birth order, several studies indicate that children with SRB tend to be the youngest in two-child families (Kearney 2000). For example, Ian Berg, Alan Butler, and Ralph McGuire (1972) found that 55 percent of their sample of 100 youth with SRB were either only or youngest children, and the average number of children in these families was 2.93. In terms of marital problems, Duane Ollendick (1979) reported that from a sample of 177 fourth-grade students, boys from single-parent families were absent from school significantly more than boys from two-parent families. In terms of parent psychopathology, Last and her colleagues (1987) found in their clinical school phobia sample that 57.1 percent of the mothers met DSM-III criteria for an anxiety disorder and 14.3 percent met criteria for an affective disorder. Kearney and Silverman (1995) provided a summary of the research literature relating to the family environments of children with SRB and concluded that five environments were most common: (1) enmeshed, (2) conflictive, (3) detached, (4) isolated, and (5) healthy. Kearney and Silverman (1995) also provided additional empirical support for these family environments based on the responses of sixty-four parents to the Family Environment Scale whose children (ages seven to sixteen years) displayed SRB.
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