Excluding children from school may lead to long-term psychiatric problems and psychological distress, a major new study has shown.
The research by the University of Exeter also finds that poor mental health can lead to school exclusion.
The study found a “bi-directional association” between psychological distress and exclusion: children with psychological distress and mental health problems were more likely to be excluded but their exclusion acted as a predictor of increased psychological distress three years later on.
The research, described as the most rigorous analysis of its kind, will be published this week in the journal Psychological Medicine. It warns that exclusion can contribute to a range of mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety as well as behavioural disturbance.
Professor Tamsin Ford, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the university’s medical school, who led the study team, said that while relatively few pupils were expelled, even temporary exclusions could amplify psychological distress.