Archive for Sunday, February 15, 2009

Girls more resilient in troubled families, study finds

February 15, 2009


Why do some children who grow up in stressful, dysfunctional families turn out to be responsible adults while other children crumble? That question, which focuses on resiliency, has long been debated among social scientists.

Previous studies have suggested that girls appear more resilient than boys to negative experiences in childhood. Now a new study also finds that girls have a better chance to overcome such disadvantages but that the odds are stacked against most kids.

The study, by researchers at the University of Washington, looked at 125 children of parents addicted to heroin. The families were recruited between 1991 and 1993 and the children were re-interviewed in 2005 and 2006 when they were an average age of 23. Besides having a drug-addicted parent, many of the children also had a parent who was jailed or mentally ill.

Overall, 62 percent of the children had three or more childhood adversities. When they were re-interviewed in early adulthood, resiliency was defined as either working or being in school, not being a substance abuser and having no criminal record. Girls, the study found, were four times more likely to be considered resilient, mostly because they avoided criminal activity while boys didn’t. Overall, only 30 of the 125 young adults studied were defined as resilient.

The study, published online this week in the Journal of Adolescent Health, also looked at factors that seemed to promote or interfere with resiliency. For example, being very nervous, fearful, anxious or depressed in childhood interfered with resiliency, as did disobedience, bullying behavior and having a bad temper.

The overall picture, said Martie L. Skinner, lead author of the study, was that these children were pretty vulnerable to becoming troubled adults. But, she said, “There are early warning signs, and if children get the attention they need to meet early problems, it can reduce the burden on society later on in caring for them.”


lounger 9 years, 3 months ago

What an odd study-Children who's parents are addicted to heroin. Wow! Im not aware of ANY parents who are addicted to heroin in circles around here. Maybe Washington is radically different.

born_to_run 9 years, 3 months ago

No, Washington is not radically different. There are plenty of kids in KS who have drug addicted parents (whether it's herion, cocaine, meth, marijuana, alcohol or prescription drugs). These kids all have a ton of adversity to face and overcome (including neglect, abuse, lack of parental support, guidance, appropriate role models and much more). Kudos to those kids that can over come those adversities to be productive and even successful later in life.

igby 9 years, 3 months ago


Most kids end up in the courts usually after their parents go to jail or get charged with unfitting parental duties. Like nodding out and letting their kids play in the street where the cops drive by and see a toddler in the street. This happens all the time all over America.

The addicted parent has to go through about a year of court UA's to get their kids back. They have to complete a series of classes and drug treatments and deal with CASA and the citizens review board. They may be ordered to not have unsupervised contact with the kids during the year long ordeal. Addicts rarely can do this without failing and the state after about one year takes the kids away and places them in foster care or with a qualified grandparent or guardian.

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