Social Psychology of Education

, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 135–153 | Cite as

Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties in Schools: Consideration of Relationships Between Theory and Practice

  • Pam Maras
  • Peter Kutnick


Current research has found that students who experience emotional and behavioural difficulties (EBDs) in school are not identified early, their behaviours (and causes) are often misrepresented, and they may not receive appropriate intervention. In this paper we review current theories (and their shortcomings) on the identification and recommended actions for students who experience EBDs, acknowledging the importance of teachers' initial identification (as schools are the social arena within which most students who experience EBDs are first identified). We suggest that teachers' identification may not be informed by the full range of theories and explanations for EBDs and that they often disregard the emotional and relational aspect of EBDs which focus on individual students and fail to recognize the social context in which the students operate. These suggestions were supported in a questionnaire-based study. Teachers' identification of EBDs coincides with predominant theoretical explanations based upon an individual's inability to fit into society, seeing EBDs as a product rather than social process. Such a situation may encourage instability in classrooms and may not allow for adequate intervention for EBDs.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pam Maras
    • 1
  • Peter Kutnick
    • 2
  1. 1.University of GreenwichUSA
  2. 2.University of BrightonUSA

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