1 In 10 Kids Hear Voices, Study Shows
Your child may hear the voices of people you can't see, but don't worry. He doesn't have the Sixth Sense.
He's just experiencing what almost one in every 10 children ages 7 to 10 goes through, according to an article in the latest issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry.
The article comes with the snappy title of "Prevalence and correlates of auditory vocal hallucinations in middle childhood." What it means is that kids often hear voices.
That's not necessarily a bad thing. "These voices in general have a limited impact in daily life," Agna A. Bartels-Velthuis tells the Reuters news service. She works for the University Center for Psychiatry at the University of Groningen in The Netherlands, and was one of three lead researchers on the project.
Most children don't find the voices troubling or disruptive to their thinking, according to the study.
Researchers found that some 16 percent of mentally healthy children and teens may hear voices. That can be a warning sign of schizophrenia and other mental health problems later in life, they report, but the "great majority" of kids will be fine.
Bartels-Velthuis tells Reuters parents should relax. "In most cases, the voices will just disappear," she says. "I would advise them to reassure their child and to watch him or her closely."
Researchers examined 3,870 children ages 7 to 10 in The Netherlands. Kids were asked if they heard "one or more voices that only you and no one else could hear" in the past year.
Nine percent answered yes. Of those children, 15 percent said the voices were distressing. And 19 percent said the voices interfered with their thinking. Boys and girls were equally likely to hear voices, but the girls were more likely to report suffering and anxiety as a result.
Bartels-Velthuis tells Reuters researchers found no link to complications during pregnancy or early infancy to children hearing voices. Researchers expected to find more urban kids hearing voices than rural kids, she adds.
"But to our surprise, the contrary was the case in our sample," she tells Reuters. "We have no explanation for this finding."
Related: Children of Rage and Sorrow: The Darkness of Schizophrenia
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.