I received a question asking if gifted children are at risk. While the question did not include specifics such as “at risk for what?” there is documentation of gifted children and youth being at risk for a number of things. Gifted students may be at risk for underachievement, overachievement, perfectionism, dropping out of high school, committing crimes that lead to incarceration, and social/emotional problems such as depression or suicide. In 2008 the Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement states “…that between 18-25% of high school dropouts are identified as gifted…The majority of those students being from low-socio-economic families and culturally and linguistically diverse groups.” Clearly there is more to do to meet the needs of gifted children and youth who experience any of the at risk issues.
Gifted students often endure bullying, misdiagnosis, and an educational system that does not meet their needs. On the other hand, in schools where gifted students are supported with programs that enable them to use their gifts and talents, they thrive. We must remember that giftedness does not equate to a high IQ. Giftedness includes the arts such as music, art, dance, and other areas besides academics. Gifted students often are more sensitive to the needy and feel personally responsible to solve great social problems. All of these, and other characteristics of gifted children and youth produce a heavy burden on their psyche. We must strive to meet their needs and advocate for our children so they develop the fortitude to maneuver the difficulties of growing up in a positive manner, and if at risk symptoms begin to arise, we must take action to get help from others in order to meet the needs of these students.
I could cite statistics and differing view points on all of the issues I’ve already mentioned, and add a few more, but that is not the point of this article. My point is to address a question and provide resources for readers to investigate as they see fit. Below is a list of a few resources related to gifted at risk students. I hope it is useful.
Gifted At-Risk Resources
Ask the Doctor