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You may have known Charlie Brown at school; EDUCATION MATTERS.

Charlie Brown, the sad and loveable loser from Peanuts, is a real character in many school playgrounds, according to psychologists.

In the American comic strip, sensitive Charlie is never able to kick a football, fly a kite properly or win at baseball.

He is often ridiculed by his classmates, made the butt of jokes and called "blockhead".

Now a study has confirmed that Charlie Brown's problems are true to life.

Schoolchildren appear to place a great deal of value on athletic ability, and those with a reputation for lacking skill in this area often experience sadness, isolation and social rejection.

Dr Janice Causgrove Dunn, from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, said: "For both boys and girls, we found that popular children reported less loneliness and received higher athletic ability ratings from their peers than rejected children. Conversely, the kids who reported higher levels of loneliness tended to receive lower athletic ability ratings and lower social acceptance ratings from their peers."

The findings are published in the latest issue of the Journal of Sport Behaviour.

Previous research has shown that loneliness in childhood and adolescence is often associated with psychosocial and emotional problems.

Prolonged loneliness has the potential to seriously undermine an individual's psychological, emotional and physical well-being.

Lonely children tend to be less physically active, less fit, and more likely to experience tension and anxiety than their more popular peers.

During the teenage years such problems are associated with smoking, cannabis use, alcohol abuse, and an increased risk of depression and dropping out of school.

Dr Causgrove Dunn added: "It's important to identify and understand the factors that might increase a child's likelihood of being accepted by the peer group because this, in turn, decreases the likelihood of that child experiencing the destructive psychosocial and emotional problems that often come with rejection." Researchers looked at 208 boys and girls aged nine to 12 at seven elementary schools in a western Canadian city.

The children completed questionnaires designed to measure loneliness levels at school, as well as self-perceived athletic ability.

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Charlie Brown has real-life problems
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Oct 22, 2007
Words:348
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