Social Psychology of Education

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 221–240 | Cite as

School factors associated with school refusal- and truancy-related reasons for school non-attendance

  • Trude HavikEmail author
  • Edvin Bru
  • Sigrun K. Ertesvåg


The primary aim of this study was to investigate how students’ perceptions of relationships with peers at school and teachers’ classroom management are associated with school refusal-related reasons and truancy-related reasons for school non-attendance. The study included controls for emotional stability and relevant parental variables. A student self-report questionnaire was implemented, and students were recruited from 45 schools in seven municipalities in Norway. The survey was conducted at the end of the autumn term in 2012, with a total of 5,465 students from the 6th–10th grades participating. The sample of students was examined to obtain a subsample consisting of those students who reported that they had been absent from school at some time during the past 3 months (\(\hbox {N}=3{,}629\)). Multivariate associations were studied in this subsample through the use of structural equation modeling. The findings of this study suggest that poor relationships with peers at school could be an important risk factor for school refusal and could be a moderate risk factor for truancy. Moreover, according to these results, teachers’ classroom management could play a role in school refusal indirectly by preventing bullying and social exclusion by peers. Finally, a direct association of teachers’ classroom management with school refusal-related and truancy-related reasons was found among secondary school students, suggesting that perceived poor support from teachers could increase the risk of school refusal and truancy among these students. The present study underscores the importance of efforts to prevent bullying as a measure to reduce school refusal. Finally, the findings imply that the role of school factors must always be taken into account in connection with unexcused school non-attendance.


School refusal Truancy Bullying Social isolation Classroom management 



We would like to thank Professor Thormod Idsøe at the Norwegian Centre for Learning Environment and Behavioral Research in Education, University of Stavanger, for helpful advice concerning statistical analyses. We would also like to thank the participating schools and students, for making this research possible.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Norwegian Centre for Learning Environment and Behavioral Research in EducationUniversity of StavangerStavangerNorway

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