Yesterday I heard on the news that 100 00 children enrolled in school attend 50% or less of the time. They are being called ghost or hidden children. My 15 year old son is one of those children and we heard the news report together..

These terms are offensive. Children who are too depressed or anxious to go to school are neither ghosts – very much alive (mostly thanks to their parents never giving up) – or hidden (except to the services that turn their back on them.)

Then I had a call from Brighton Children’s Services asking to be part of a focus group for the Children’s Commissioner for UK who is travelling around the country listening to the stories of children not in school. Are the Government finally realising that we have a broken education system that only works for some children? We’ll see..I suspect any change will simply be to blame schools or parents for not doing enough…

I don’t know if anyone will listen – but our children’s voices should be heard- so I will tell my son’s story. If you have a child who voice needs to be heard please share their story too.

My son is 15 yrs and hasn’t been at school for four months. He has no intention of going back. He lies awake til 3/4am every night unable to sleep and I spend 1.5 hrs trying to get him out of bed every morning. Today I have failed. Some days he does a lot of work at home. He wants to go to college and is really bright but when he was at school he felt suicidal. He is neuro-diverse and trans. He wasn’t bullied at school, but neither did anyone – teachers or pupils – talk to him most days. Schools of 1600 children are the norm and there seems to be no state alternative for children that don’t thrive in an environment of massive sensory overload.

I’ve been trying to get him onto a 3 year waiting list for gender counselling and healthcare at the Tavistock since April (the only NHS service for under 16 trans kids in the country). I’m still waiting to hear. He will be 18 years old and ineligible for their services by the time they could offer us an appointment.

I’ve spent the last 3 months fighting to get him an appointment with CAMHS (Children’s mental health services). They say because he is trans he needs to be seen by a trans specialist – but there is no 1:1 specialist mental health support for trans kids. But my Q is – why should depression and anxiety be treated differently for a child who is trans?

Meanwhile school goes on at our kitchen table – when I can persuade him to get out of bed.

So I have gone private – healthcare, mental health and tutors – as far as I can afford to save my child’s life. But I continue to fight for his right to be seen for the clever, funny 15 yr old boy that he is and for the successful future he deserves.

I know that my son is just one of so many children who are struggling – even more so since society shut down for 2 years at a crucial time in teen development. And many are being ignored and turned away by the services that are supposed to help. It is time the voices of our children are heard…

with love and light


Emma Charvet is Co-Founder of Children’s Yoga Tree Training School and has been teaching yoga to children and teens for over ten years. She teaches an online Teen Wellbeing Class on Thursday evenings 6-7pm.