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Volume 39, Issue 1 (2010)

School Transitions Among Military Adolescents: A Qualitative Study of Stress and Coping

pp. 84—105

Abstract. The research on highly mobile military adolescents has produced mixed findings. Whereas early descriptive studies reported that adolescents experiencing multiple residential moves exhibited symptoms of what was termed military family syndrome, more recent quantitative studies have found few negative effects after controlling for prior status. However, most of the extant research has been conducted during peacetime, and thus may not generalize to today’s mobile military students, whose parents are facing deployment at increasing rates. The current study used qualitative methods to (a) describe the transition-related stressors experienced by mobile military students; (b) describe the efforts employed to help these students cope with their stress; and (c) identify strategies that schools can use to ease the transition process for mobile military students, as reported through 11 focus groups conducted with military students, their parents, and school staff. The findings suggest that the move-related stressors experienced by mobile military students affected their adjustment to the new school environment. Recommendations for supporting mobile military students are provided.

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