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Child stress Parents blamed for putting schoolchildren under pressure

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Are Swiss schools becoming more stressful for pupils?


Parents, not schools, are to blame for an apparent increase in stress levels among primary schoolchildren, according to a Swiss youth welfare group.

A 2014 study by the World Health Organisationexternal link (WHO) found that 27% of eleven-year-old children in Switzerland suffer from sleep problems, while 15% complain of constant depression. In addition, 12% regularly suffer from headaches, Swiss public television reports.

However, Pro Juventute Foundation president Katja Wiesendanger, herself a primary school teacher for more than 30 years in the Swiss city of Basel, said that these ailments are not being induced by schools putting undue pressure on pupils. She acknowledged that schools are becoming aware of stress symptoms among some children, but questioned the source of these problems.

"I keep hearing that pressure to perform in primary school has increased," she said. "But you have to ask yourself exactly where this pressure comes from. The school is cited as the most common cause of stress. But has the school really become more stressful?”

Instead, she blamed parents who attach ever-increasing importance to education, which gets picked up by their children. "There is a certain fear of relegation among parents. They pass this on to their children."

In October Pro Juventuteexternal link launched a campaign called “Less pressure, more child” to promote more free time for children to follow their own interests.

The organisation said the percentage of calls to its Advice and Helpline 147 for “serious personal problems” rose to 29.5% of all calls for the first half of 2017. In 2012 this was 17.5%.

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