The Effects of Poverty on the Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Health of Children and Youth Implications for Prevention

Graduate School of Education, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.
American Psychologist (Impact Factor: 6.87). 05/2012; 67(4):272-84. DOI: 10.1037/a0028015
Source: PubMed


This article considers the implications for prevention science of recent advances in research on family poverty and children's mental, emotional, and behavioral health. First, we describe definitions of poverty and the conceptual and empirical challenges to estimating the causal effects of poverty on children's mental, emotional, and behavioral health. Second, we offer a conceptual framework that incorporates selection processes that affect who becomes poor as well as mechanisms through which poverty appears to influence child and youth mental health. Third, we use this conceptual framework to selectively review the growing literatures on the mechanisms through which family poverty influences the mental, emotional, and behavioral health of children. We illustrate how a better understanding of the mechanisms of effect by which poverty impacts children's mental, emotional, and behavioral health is valuable in designing effective preventive interventions for those in poverty. Fourth, we describe strategies to directly reduce poverty and the implications of these strategies for prevention. This article is one of three in a special section (see also Biglan, Flay, Embry, & Sandler, 2012; Muñoz, Beardslee, & Leykin, 2012) representing an elaboration on a theme for prevention science developed by the 2009 report of the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine.

    • "As a result, many low-income parents struggle to meet the demands of the 21st century global economy as technological innovation increasingly requires advanced degrees to attain a family-supporting wage (Chase-Lansdale & Brooks-Gunn, 2014). In addition, the proportion of children living in low-income families is high, with almost half of all children in the United States living in low-income households in 2013, and upward mobility is increasingly elusive (Addy et al., 2013; DeNavas-Walt & Proctor, 2014; Wight, Chau, & Aratani, 2010; Yoshikawa, Aber, & Beardslee, 2012). In this context, policymakers are seeking new approaches to support parents' educational advancement and wage growth, and to promote well-being across generations. "
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    ABSTRACT: Two-generation programs provide education and training services for parents while their children attend early childhood education programs. This study examines the rates of persistence and certification of parents in one of the only two-generation interventions in the country under study, CareerAdvance®, which offers training in the healthcare sector to parents while their children attend Head Start (n = 92). Results indicate that 16 months after enrolling in CareerAdvance®, 76% of participants attained at least one workforce-applicable certificate of the program and 59% were still in the program. The majority of parents who left the program during the 16 months had attained a certificate (68%). Parents with high levels of material hardship were more likely to attain a certificate and stay enrolled in the program, and parents with higher levels of psychological distress were less likely to attain a certificate in the same time period. Implications for future two-generation programming are discussed.
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    • "The number of youth in the U.S. who are living in poverty has increased compared to 2000 (Moore et al. 2014). Living in poverty in general can yield negative health and well-being effects, especially the longer that the child is subjected to poverty (for a review seeYoshikawa et al. 2012). Living in poverty has many social and emotional implications for youth development, including externalizing disorders and internalizing disorders, and lower school engagement and educational success (Moore et al. 2014). "
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    ABSTRACT: Studies have found traumatic experiences in childhood to have lasting effects across the lifecourse. These adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) include a variety of types of trauma, including psychological, physical or sexual abuse; living in poverty; violence in the home; living with a substance abuser; living with a mentally ill or suicidal person; or living with someone who is or has been imprisoned. Long-term effects among adults have been found in previous studies; but there is limited research on the association between ACEs and adolescent development and even less on potential protective factors to mediate these associations. Utilizing the U.S. 2011–2012 National Survey of Children’s Health, this study examines both the prevalence of ACEs in a nationally representative sample of 12–17 year old adolescents and the cross-sectional relationship between experiencing ACEs and multiple measures of well-being. Potential protective factors are then examined in a mediation model. Results indicate that the more ACEs adolescents experience, the less likely they are to enjoy high levels of well-being. Many factors partially mediate this association, including residing in a safe neighborhood, attending a safe school, and parental monitoring of friends and activities. We conclude that measures of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) represent an important construct for indicator systems; in addition, these findings indicate that measures of protective factors represent important components of indication systems.
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    • "For example, in a study of 1069 11-year-old twins and their biological mothers and fathers, Bornovalova et al. (2010) demonstrated that parental genetic factors accounted for a large percentage of the variance in disorders in these children. Some variables may produce intergenerational effects (Yoshikawa et al., 2012). For example, low levels of education and adolescent parenthood are associated with low SES, and these may perpetuate poverty, resulting in effects on behavior problems generations later. "
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    ABSTRACT: The association between socioeconomic status (SES) and behavior problems in children is long established and well accepted. Across levels of SES, behavioral problems are generally more common among lower-SES children. However, less is understood about both the mechanisms that underlie these differences and their developmental origins. This article reviews the research regarding material and psychosocial paths that account for socioeconomic differences in child behavioral problems and how these differences are reinforced by social contextual influences within the family, school, and community. The article ends with a discussion about implications of SES differences for clinical care and policy interventions.
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