According to a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Dayton, children who come from disadvantaged neighborhoods (DN) are at increased risk for developing conduct problems (CP) in their pre-teen and teen years. “Children growing up in disadvantaged neighborhoods characterized by poverty, low levels of social organization and cohesion, and high levels of residential instability and crime are at increased risk for a host of negative outcomes, including academic failure, depression and anxiety, teenage pregnancy, and conduct problems,” said Jackson A. Goodnight, of the University of Dayton and lead author of the study. One contributing factor for this dynamic could be that families from DNs often have low incomes, and are usually single-family households, making parental supervision difficult and CP more likely. If ND is a risk factor for CP, the researchers believe the implications, socially, economically, and psychologically, could be profound.
The team reviewed data gathered from the Children of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (CNLSY) and the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1979 (NLSY79) to make their assessment. The participants in the surveys were assessed every year beginning in 1979 and ending in 1994, resulting in a total of 4,912 women, all with a minimum of one child. The women reported income and conduct problems. The children also participated in self-reports of delinquency as they got older.
The study revealed that ND was a significant factor for CP in the offspring of the mothers in the survey. Goodnight said, “Although this hypothesis needs to be tested further using a variety of quasi-experimental and experimental designs that can rule out the remaining alternative explanations, the present results lend further credence to the idea that interventions targeted at facets of communities, not just specific families or individuals, could reduce the prevalence of psychological and behavioral problems that have significant personal and societal costs.”
Goodnight, J. A., Lahey, B. B., Van Hulle, C. A., Rodgers, J. L., Rathouz, P. J., Waldman, I. D., & D’Onofrio, B. M. (2011, September 26). A Quasi-Experimental Analysis of the Influence of Neighborhood Disadvantage on Child and Adolescent Conduct Problems. Journal of Abnormal Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0025078
© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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