Stress in life transitions during the basic education: evolution and changes associated with sex/age

Based on the bio-ecological model, transition periods within the compulsory education are able to cause stress which may compromise the physical and psychosocial development of children. This longitudinal study aimed to monitor stress symptoms along two transitional periods in the Brazil school system (the 1st and 6th year), focusing on changes along time, and gender differences. The sample comprises 25 boys and 27 girls (mean age at the first observation – 104.83 months) who answered the Childhood Stress Scale in the 1st, 5th and 6th grade of elementary education.

Results of repeated measures ANOVA suggest that year of school transition had a significant effect in the stress symptoms. Higher values were found in the 1st grade, and no significant differences were found between 5th and 6th grades. An interaction effect between year and gender was found. Girls showed higher stress symptoms in the 1th and 6th, and are less stressed in the 5th grade while boys showed higher stress symptoms only in the 1th grade and are less stressed in the 5th and 6th grade.

Results point to the presence of stress in periods of school transition, with girls and boys reacting differently according to age. More research on gender and school transitions is needed, as well as studies regarding the efficacy of interventions targeting the decrease of childhood stress.

Esta investigação foi financiada por bolsa da CAPES – Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior e por auxílio e bolsa do CNPq – Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico. Entidades do Governo Brasileiro voltadas para a formação de recursos humanos. http://www.capes.gov.br/ e http://cnpq.br/