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Psychological problems of early school leavers

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 June 2014

Deborah James
Regional Child and Family Centre, Dublin Road, Drogheda, Co Louth, Ireland
Maria Lawlor
Regional Child and Family Centre, Dublin Road, Drogheda, Co Louth, Ireland


Objectives: To establish the prevalence of psychological problems in early school leavers, who attend training schemes.

Method: The Youth self report inventory was completed by teenagers as part of a group setting. Percentages of those scoring above clinical threshold were calculated and gender differences examined.

Results: 78 teenagers participated in the study, 40 males and 38 females. 24% were classified as being in the clinical range of total problem score. Girls reported more total, internalising and externalising problems than boys. 13% of girls frequently thought of suicide and 7% had frequent thoughts of self harm, this contrasts with none of the boys admitting suicidal ideation and 2.5% reporting thoughts of self harm.

Conclusions: 24% of this group experienced problems which placed them within the clinical range. Girls experienced greater problems than boys and appear to be at greater risk of self harm. This group appear to be representative of those who attend training programmes, however it is not possible to determine whether they are representative of all early school leavers. This highlights the vulnerability of older adolescents, and in particular those who leave school early. More detailed examination of issues facing this group are needed and should be a priority along with greater service provision from the educational and health sectors.

Original Papers
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2001

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