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School Is Good for Health

The American Academy of Pediatrics is focusing on a seemingly unlikely topic — school attendance — but the nation’s pediatricians argue there is a link between going to school and good childhood attendance.

What’s the connection? Kids who miss a lot of school are more likely to drop out and that puts them at a big risk for unhealthy behaviors as teenagers and adults. Adults with less education, for example, are at a higher risk for unemployment and lack of  health care.

How big is the problem? The AAP quotes statistics that say 13 percent, or 6.5 million students, miss 15 or more days of school each year. About 10 percent of kindergarten and first grade students miss more than 30 days of school each year, and the percentage of high schoolers who are chronically absent annually is about 19 percent.

The AAP notes that school attendance increases when schools make more time for hand washing, sponsor flu vaccine programs and provide more access to nurses and counselors as well as school-based medical, dental and nutrition services. They advocated for developing polices that promote school attendance and starting as early as preschool.

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