Family history, neighborhood affect teen behavior problems

Jan 13, 2006

Girls' behaviors worsen more than boys' when neighborhood conditions deteriorate, a new University of Michigan study indicates. Boys are adversely influenced by family factors, such as parental education, a family member's incarceration and parents' work behavior, said Irene Ng, the study's author.

"For males, it is not so much low income per se, but low income as a result of lack of employment for heads of households and in the context of family disruption that negatively influences behavior," said Ng, a graduate student at U-M's School of Social Work.

Ng studied family history and neighborhood impacts on 17 behavior problems such as mood changes, cheating or lying, bullying or cruelty to others, deliberately destroying things, and hanging around with kids who get into trouble. These problems were studied collectively, not individually. Girls had more problems than boys when neighborhood conditions didn't improve.

Her findings will be presented today at the annual Society for Social Work and Research conference in San Antonio, Texas.

Using results from a sample of 873 adolescents aged 14 to 17, the study showed that single parenthood—rather than family income and wealth—adversely affects adolescent behavior problems. Greater monitoring by the primary caregiver reduces youth deviance, she said.

For sons, the head of household working few hours in a non-traditional family structure and incarceration history in the family have adverse consequences, the study indicates. This is not the case for daughters.

Ng looked at neighborhood variables, including one rated by primary caregivers and another based on census characteristics. Both boys and girls are adversely affected by poorer neighborhood conditions, but the effects were greater for girls.

The study's findings have several implications. Although anti-poverty policies may not directly influence adolescent behavior, strategies to lower poverty levels by supporting family relationships and vitalizing neighborhoods could reduce adolescent deviance, she said.

Furthermore, criminal prevention and rehabilitation efforts should be part of the solution to reducing behavior problems of adolescent children of criminals, Ng said.

Source: University of Michigan

Explore further: Entrepreneurs to venture capitalists: Don't be a Scrooge

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Bullying in schools is still prevalent, national report says

Oct 23, 2014

Despite a dramatic increase in public awareness and anti-bullying legislation nationwide, the prevalence of bullying is still one of the most pressing issues facing our nation's youth, according to a report by researchers ...

Current state of the American family

Oct 21, 2014

Most young Americans plan to get married someday, but more than 40 percent of births now occur outside marriage, and the American family itself has become far more diverse and varied.

Bioengineers create functional 3-D brain-like tissue

Aug 11, 2014

Bioengineers have created three-dimensional brain-like tissue that functions like and has structural features similar to tissue in the rat brain and that can be kept alive in the lab for more than two months.

Recommended for you

James Watson's Nobel Prize to be auctioned

6 hours ago

Missed the chance to bid on Francis Crick's Nobel Prize when it was auctioned off last year for $2.27 million? No worries, you'll have another chance to own a piece of science history on Dec. 4, when James D. Watson's 1962 ...

Over-identifying restrictions in economic analysis

11 hours ago

The analysis of empirical economics has long made use of a tool called the generalized method of moments (GMM). This method is used as a generic way of estimating parameters in an empirical model where the ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.