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Social Emotional Behavioural Difficulties

The term Social Emotional Behavioural Difficulties (SEBD) covers a wide range of emotional problems. It is an umbrella term that describes a range of complex difficulties including emotional difficulties and complex mental health issues. These can include adjustment disorders, anxiety disorders and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) among many others.

The Special Educational Needs (SEN) code of practice describes SEBD as a learning difficulty where children and young people demonstrate features of emotional and behavioural difficulties such as being hyperactive and lacking concentration; having immature social skills; being withdrawn or isolated; displaying a disruptive and disturbing nature; presenting challenging behaviours arising from other social needs. The term can therefore cover a wide range of educational needs, and can also include children whose behavioural difficulties are less obvious, for example anxiety, self harming, depression or phobias - as well as those whose emotional well-being appears to be deteriorating.

Children with SEBD can develop learning difficulties because their ability to cope with school relationships and routines is affected. Although difficulties can pose a barrier to learning, SEBD can affect those of all intelligence levels and abilities. For some, their behavioural problem may cause them to be excluded from particular activities which can hamper learning. In some cases, having a learning difficulty can lead to or worsen behavioural difficulties, for example children may develop disruptive behaviour in order to draw attention away from their inability to follow what is going on in lessons.

There is no one cause of SEBD or automatic link between specific social factors and SEBD. There is evidence that prevalence varies according to gender, age and family income level. It is higher in socially deprived inner city areas and tends to affect more boys than girls.

Some organisations that can offer advice and support:



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