Family history, neighborhood affect teen behavior problems

January 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: Advice for displaced persons during the holiday season

Related Stories

Advice for displaced persons during the holiday season

November 15, 2017

The holiday season is a time to give back, and that is especially important to remember this year due to the impacts of Hurricane Harvey. Although many people are back in their homes, others are still displaced. One Baylor ...

AI-based financial advisor for low-wage workers

October 11, 2017

Workers with lower-than-median wages are often prone to financial instability and affected by bank policies such as penalty and overdraft fees, leading to a vicious cycle of debt and poor credit. During 2016 alone, banks ...

Recommended for you

Old, meet new: Drones, high-tech camera revamp archaeology

November 24, 2017

Scanning an empty field that once housed a Shaker village in New Hampshire, Jesse Casana had come in search of the foundations of stone buildings, long-forgotten roadways and other remnants of this community dating to the ...

0 comments

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.