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USC report looks into how deployment affects military children in public schools

Six-year-old Carolyn Hoagland (C)  laughs with other children of active duty military personnel while awaiting the arrival of First Lady Michell Obama during the press preview of the White House Christmas decorations in Washington, DC, November 30, 2011. The White House chose a theme of
Six-year-old Carolyn Hoagland (C) laughs with other children of active duty military personnel while awaiting the arrival of First Lady Michell Obama during the press preview of the White House Christmas decorations in Washington, DC, November 30, 2011. The White House chose a theme of "Shine, Give, Share" celebrating the countless ways we can lift up those around us. AFP PHOTO/Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

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A new report out Thursday sheds light on how frequent military deployments affect the troops’ school-age children.

In a new video, Southern California kids talk about what it’s like to have a parent in the military.

One says he's often at home alone, "trying to do my homework and nobody would help me." Another talks about moving "seven, eight times," from North Carolina, to Virginia, to New York.

"Some of the recent studies that have come out show that the deployments are really, really causing tremendous impact on the children," said USC social work professor Ron Astor, who collaborated on the video. "[They impact] the children, the parents, and the schooling of some of these kids."

Appearing in the December edition of the Review of Educational Research, “The Children of Military Service Members: Challenges, Supports and Future Educational Research” was published by Astor and others at the USC to shine a light on the unique challenges faced regularly by military children. It's the result of a conglomeration of studies on the children of servicemen and women – some going back as far as the Vietnam War.

According to co-author Kris de Pedro, of the 1.2 million school-aged children of military service members, only 86,000 actually attend schools administered by the Department of Defense. The rest attend public or charter schools.

Astor said that the report serves to highlight the growing need for children in military families to be given specially-directed support from teachers, classmates and possibly counselors.

"If schools and normative settings like clinics and hospitals are not responsive to kids, we see that there are mental health outcomes," Astor added. "Including higher suicide rates, higher suicide ideation, higher bullying in terms of being bullied from place to place."

The report urged schools to take a more active role in understanding the pressures on military families - especially during wartime - and implement policies that support children through transitions, deployments and reunions with parents returning from war.