The Reflection

Gull Lake High School's Online News Source

At School and Sick: How the pressure to succeed pushes students to neglect their health

Photo by Cheryl Jolin

October through March is notoriously known as Flu Season. In a school with hundreds of other unsanitary kids, students push through coughs and sneezes and continue to go to classes, play sports and participate in extracurricular activities. Not only is this unhealthy for the sick teens, it also spreads sickness to other students.

This problem is more common in high school than younger students since parents give teenagers more freedom and trust them to make the choice on when whether they are too sick to go to school or not. According to WebMD, since younger children are more creative, they come up with crazier and more effective ways to fake illnesses and are even able to fool doctors.  As kids are older, they feel more pressure from their responsibilities and go to school sick instead.

One of the only ways to fully recover from being sick is to get plenty of rest, but when students refuse to miss school, meeting, practice and rehearsal it doesn’t allow them proper time to heal. Not to mention, students who force themselves to excel in school and activities don’t get much time to sleep, which plays a strong hand in their weak immune systems.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 81.6 percent of adolescents are of good health. It also states that 5.3 percent percent of kids ages 12-17 miss 11 days of school (which is considered an average) in the past 12 months. These facts leave 14.9 percent of students unaccounted for, meaning they most likely are going to school while ill.

Ironically, teenagers who neglect to stay home when they are ill adversely affect academic and athletic performance. Howard Taras, M.D., Acting Chief of Community Pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine reported that health concerns of all varieties affect teens behavior and performance and several patterns connected to sleep. Students who are caught up on sleep and are healthy have a higher attention span, more energy, can breath easier and participate to their fullest.

The stress isn’t all internal.Teenagers also get external pressures from authority figures and peers to continue to come to school, rehearsal, work, meetings and practices when sick.

Loading themselves up on DayQuil and cough drops and Tylenol is the best way students find to balance their responsibilities and viruses. What they fail to realize is that they are still contagious even when they are on too many medications to even know so.

Students need to realize what is best for them, even if it means ignoring authority figures and letting their peers down. Stay at home, rest up and fully recover.

By Courtney Pedersen News Editor

Author Profile

Cheryl Jolin
Cheryl Jolin is the adviser of The Reflection and Gull Lake High School’s yearbook publications for 16 years. In addition, she teaches English, Writing for the Press and AP Literature with a Master's in Journalism from MSU.

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