Study: A wider social services safety net does not guarantee fewer children slip

Today is the day for interesting research findings. Here is a summary of a study that looked at whether children fared better in a country with a wider safety net than the United States.

Researchers compared child outcomes in the U.S. and Great Britain, which offers families and children a broader range of social services.

Their conclusion: It didn’t seem to make any difference. The risk factors for behavioral problems did not appear to be  mitigated by stronger social services, affirming the researchers’ earlier findings of the critical role of parents to healthy child development.

I find this interesting because there is a lot of effort in this country to provide more public supports to children from fractured or troubled households. But can those supports compensate for what Gov. Roy Barnes used to describe as “sorry parents”?

I have found that the kids who thrive despite tough home lives often have one of two things in their favor: Inner resilience or a caring mentor/uncle/aunt/neighbor who becomes a surrogate parent. I am not sure how well the government can provide either of those things to kids from dysfunctional homes.

Here is the study release:

Children in the United States and Great Britain share a number of common risk factors that increase the likelihood that they will have behavioral problems—and Britain’s broader social welfare programs don’t appear to mitigate those risks, according to a new study in the June issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior (JHSB).

The researchers—from North Carolina State University, California State University-Northridge, and the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign—evaluated data from a 1994 study of children between the ages of five and 13 in the U.S. and a 1991 study of children in the same age range from England, Scotland, and Wales.

In both the U.S. and Great Britain, the JHSB study found that male children, children with health problems, and children with divorced mothers were more likely to have behavioral problems.

“We also found that stronger home environments—those that are intellectually stimulating, nurturing, and physically safe—decrease the likelihood of behavior problems in both the U.S. and Great Britain,” said Dr. Toby Parcel, a professor of sociology at NC State and lead author of the JHSB study.

“We wanted to see whether the role of parents was equally important in both societies because the argument has been made that more developed welfare states—such as Great Britain—can make the role of parents less important, by providing additional supports that can help compensate for situations where households have more limited resources. This study tells us that parents are important in households, regardless of the strength of the welfare state.”

While there were common risk factors for children in the U.S. and Great Britain, there were also some differences between these groups. For example, “family structure” effects were more pronounced in Great Britain. Family structure, in this context, refers to marital status and family size. In Great Britain, a child from a family with a single mother or multiple children was at a higher risk of having behavioral problems.

Additionally, the more children in a British family, the greater the likelihood a child from that family had behavioral problems. These effects were absent in the U.S.

Titled, “Children’s Behavior Problems in the United States and Great Britain,” the study was co-authored by Dr. Lori Ann Campbell, of Cal State-Northridge, and Dr. Wenxuan Zhong, of University of Illinois, and was funded, in part, by the National Science Foundation.

The researchers are now looking to see how shared risk factors may influence child cognition and academic achievement across these two societies. Parcel and Campbell have previously shown that parents are critical to the creation of strong home environments in both the U.S. and Great Britain.

–From Maureen Downey,for the AJC Get Schooled blog

93 comments Add your comment

NONPC

May 16th, 2012
1:25 pm

So much for Obama’s ‘The Life of Julia’…

In the end, strong home environments are the key critical differentiator between failure and success. And since this is the “Get Schooled” blog, it is also the key differentiator between successful students and problem students… successful schools and problem schools. Money and teachers cannot take the place of involved parents. While school systems say, “we need more money and better teachers to be successful”, they should be saying, “we need parents to do their part to be successful”.

what's best for kids???

May 16th, 2012
1:31 pm

Wait a minute…more government involvement doesn’t work? You stop it right now.

Beverly Fraud

May 16th, 2012
1:34 pm

So much for “the research” that says the teacher is THE most important factor in a student’s academic success.

HS Public Teacher

May 16th, 2012
1:37 pm

What a horrible horrible study and even wose “conclusion.” This is obviously done or backed by some so-called conservative group whose objective is to cut services.

What about the homeless children starving? The idea is that providing them with food does not help them? Give me a break! They may or may not have behavioral issues, but does that mean we should not feed them?

What about children living with a battered mother? Helping that situation doesn’t help the children? The children may already have issues to deal with, but helping the battered wife can only help their situation as opposed to leaving things the way they are.

Oh, and by the way, the study also says that “marital status” makes a difference for children. For you conservatives, isn’t that a reason to PROMOTE gay marriage? If a gay couple already has a child (adopted or otherwise), doesn’t this mean that we need to allow it? LOL!

Beverly Fraud

May 16th, 2012
1:41 pm

Funny how importance of family dovetails nicely with the recent post where Margaret Spellings discusses the positive legacy of No Child Left Behind.

By the way did anybody catch the recent Margaret Spellings’ interview on the History Channel where she discusses the “positive effects” of high altitude travel for the Donner Party?

BT

May 16th, 2012
1:44 pm

Amen…as a child from a broke home and placed in an orphange at the age of 11, i agree totally with inner resilience and motivation. I had to decide early in life was I going to blame the world for my problems or was I going to do what it took to be successful. I can say today that I chose the latter as a school administrator for the last 16 years in public education.
The main problem in our society is the crumbling of the family unit with regards to abandonment, divorce, and morality.

Pluto

May 16th, 2012
1:52 pm

@ HS Public Teacher … Maybe just maybe government can’t be all things to all people with problems. Also, let’s face it maybe many of the public servants administering all of these “safety nets” are incompetent. As far as gay marriage goes, isn’t the word itself an oxymoron? The institution has served society well for thousands of years and now we need to redefine it? Have your social unions but don’t call it a marriage.

Principal Skinner

May 16th, 2012
1:54 pm

Hey, I’ve got an idea. Let’s throw more $$$$$ at the problem. That always works wonders

Mitch

May 16th, 2012
2:06 pm

Anyone ever hear of “family values”. I bet on those kids who were taught sound values in ages B through 6 at home. We often hear the term family values but few people know how to teach their children.

HS Public Teacher

May 16th, 2012
2:31 pm

@Pluto….

1. Because there is government incompetance is no reason to refuse to help children.
2. No one has said that government should be all things to all people.
3. Gay marriage has nothing to do with “redefining” anything. It allows the government to fully recognize what you call “civil unions” and provides laws, rights, and freedoms to those families on par with other families. Please education yourself on this issue – it sounds like you have a far way to go. I could go into detail, but that is not what this blog is about.

AlreadySheared

May 16th, 2012
2:34 pm

Thesis:

‘The data show that the optimal environment for a child to be raised in is a household with a married father and mother.’

If the above thesis is true, then the study cited above makes sense.

AlreadySheared

May 16th, 2012
2:38 pm

@HS Public Teacher:
‘ This is obviously done or backed by some so-called conservative group whose objective is to cut services.’

and yet

“funded, in part, by the National Science Foundation’

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”
Daniel Patrick Moynihan

SBinF

May 16th, 2012
3:04 pm

I think the safety net is largely meant to keep people fed, clothed, and housed. I wasn’t aware it existed to fix children.

Pluto

May 16th, 2012
3:13 pm

@ HS Public Teacher … “Please education yourself on this issue – it sounds like you have a far way to go.” You sir/ma’am are a typical liberal of self importance and enlightenment. If I had your writing skills, I would work to improve them. Kinda like we encourage our students to do. You do, do that don’t you?

International Educator

May 16th, 2012
3:13 pm

Haven’t we missed a HUGE point here, that of taking care of those children who DON’T come from strong family environments and who can NOT handle it? Those are the children government programs focus on. Should we try to improve home environments and provide strong role models? Of course. The WAY in which we do this is debatable. Regardless, some children will end up falling through the cracks. Those are the children we need to focus on. Some support (like that offered by well-intentioned but often inefficient gov’t programs) is always better than no support at all.

I’m also curious as as to the changes that have happened in both countries since this data was taken over 20 years ago…

AlreadySheared

May 16th, 2012
3:33 pm

@International Educator
Ironic. The HUGE point is how an increase in children born out of wedlock

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db18.htm (look at the pretty picture)

has coincided with an explosion of government programs designed to “help” children.

Some help.

OMG

May 16th, 2012
3:39 pm

“Gay marriage has nothing to do with “redefining” anything. It allows the government to fully recognize what you call “civil unions” and provides laws, rights, and freedoms to those families on par with other families.”

Yes it does! You need to re-read and get someone to explain it to you. It redefines what a marriage is! A family has also been re-defined from a husband(father) and a wife(mother) to whatevery with the blessings of people like you.

Parent Teacher

May 16th, 2012
3:49 pm

More evidence that the most important factor determining success of a student is the parents. Politicians, minority leaders and many others need to stop pointing the finger at others and focus on community lead programs to educate parents and families on how to become better parents. If the parents did not get it when they were raised then they can’t pass it on to their children. It has to start somewhere.

atlpaddy

May 16th, 2012
4:00 pm

Well, if strong “religious” morals was the overriding basis for healthy child development as many of the right-wingers here suggest, then states like Georgia and Mississipi should be tearing up the charts for education and standard-of-living indexes.

How’s that working out so far???

OMG

May 16th, 2012
4:01 pm

atlpaddy

May 16th, 2012
4:00 pm
How wealthy was Christ?

JB

May 16th, 2012
4:06 pm

atlpaddy…………….lot’s of other factors. Poverty, single mothers stuck in poverty………….The traditional family unit will win out most of the time to produce healthy,successful Children.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

May 16th, 2012
4:09 pm

Of the eighteen “underperforming” high schools in our area of the state, the one with the highest graduation rate is the one whose principal has established a teacher-mentor model which he readily admits is too difficult in terms of time and energy for most teachers to undertake.

Anyone interesting in learning more about the successes earned by at-risk students at Glenn Hill High in Augusta may contact Dr. Wayne Frazier, GHHS’ principal, at frazier27@comcast.net.

Long time educator

May 16th, 2012
4:10 pm

Same song, umpteenth verse. Strong family vaues that include valuing education and hard work and respect for authority equal success in life and school. Without it, teachers and schools try to make up the difference, but often, the family has a stronger influence. Government is not the answer; God is.

bobby

May 16th, 2012
4:19 pm

this article is ridiculous and sad. anyone saying this obviously has NEVER had it hard. sad you would even publish this biased republican point of view so hard in a stae where poor single parents , black and white are being affected by a recession . nnot bad times, a RECESSION , worst since the GREAT one, rember that?? of course not , cuz u werent there. SO economic downturn where only the banks and rich have access to education? are you serious ? America takes one big step forward and 3 huge steps back.. so sad

Once Again

May 16th, 2012
4:27 pm

When we destroyed the family/church/community charity function by imposing government on the process, we fundamentally destroyed america’s future. When you undermine a PERSONAL sense of charity, create a culture of dependence, create a culture of welfare, etc. you create a complete disconnect with the fundamental principles that underpin society. Replacing the most critical functions within a society by faceless bureaucrats who not only lack direct connection to the problem/individual/community but also see their role as one of a “job” rather than a calling is always a recipe for disaster.

Bureaucracies feed on failure. Poor performance is rewarded with more money, success is measured by how many are being “served” rather than how many are actually being helped to leave the program, etc.

Any free market analyst could easily have predicted this outcome (as they have for the past 150+ years that government has been undermining private charities, families, churches, etc.

The simple act of destroying the purchasing power of the dollar through the Federal Reserve printing press and federal debt, combined with higher taxation at all levels of government has fundamentally undermined the ability of families to provide more time/resources to the children they have. No longer can only one parent work and provide adequately. For those in one parent households, parental involvement is further destroyed through this inflationary process.

Utopia cannot be achieved – despite all the promises of government social engineers. One needs however to look at what has been imposed on the family/social unit/charity/community that undermines its native ability to solve its own problems. There is only one force that can IMPOSE itself and has also seen unprecidented growth in both its rules, its regulations, its power, its size, and its cost – Government.

Once Again

May 16th, 2012
4:47 pm

The greatest detrimental impact has come since Johnson’s Great Society was imposed on america. Just look at the numbers for virtually every minority group since then and even whites. Downhill by virtually every measure.

Follow the Course

May 16th, 2012
4:49 pm

Until the people that are responsible for bringing a child into this world are held accountable this issue will never go away.

@ Once Again

May 16th, 2012
4:57 pm

Do you really think that people will voluntarily give enough to churches/charities to feed every starving person in the U.S.? Oh, and feed every starving person regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation? I am pretty sure a true free market capitalist would disagree with the point that people should work less, make less, and live on less to have more time with their children.

atlpaddy

May 16th, 2012
5:00 pm

I see that no one wants to truly answer my question.

If residents in Georgia and Mississippi are such paragons of Christian rectitude (as the denizens of this blog and Republicans suggest) then why are children more likely to succeed and receive a quality education in places like “liberal” Massachusetts and “socialist” Europe?

atlpaddy

May 16th, 2012
5:06 pm

“The greatest detrimental impact has come since Johnson’s Great Society was imposed on america.”

Yes, it had nothing to do with the decline of the U.S. industrial sector and off-shoring of quality, middle-class jobs. Also, try having a little more pride in this country and spell America with a capital “A.”

Pompano

May 16th, 2012
5:20 pm

atlpaddy – You’re having difficulty distinguishing the forest from the trees. Look at the areas in GA & MS that have both strong family units and Christian values. Those are where you will find educational performance on par with any in the country.

TheGoldenRam

May 16th, 2012
6:03 pm

This study won’t change anything. You could have 500 studies that all essentially came to the same conclusions and it wouldn’t change anything.

In our society, “Social Services” is now an industry unto itself. It’s a jobs program, a benefits program, a source of contracts for some in the private sector and it is very much intertwined into our political landscape. In other words, it now has reasons for being that are separate from any original intents & missions.

Here’s an absurd example from down here in Florida. I have a cousin that is an I.T. Supervisor working for the State. We had dinner a couple months ago. I asked him what he was doing. He had recently been moved to the Department of Children & Families(DCF). Their big project was to create communication systems in a bunch of trucks resembling a small RV. Why? Because like many other government entities, DCF’s budget for the next year is in large part determined by prior year spending. There is this big seasonal race to spend anything you have left before the end of the budget year. If you don’t spend it all, it’s hard to justify you need as much for next year. I, like many, despise this government phenomenon. So they buy & outfit these trucks, stock them with preloaded benefit cards and then drive them into the middle of poor neighborhoods to hand them out. Imagine an ice cream truck handing out pre-paid debit cards and you’ll have an accurate picture. So my cousin rides along for the first few trips to make sure the systems work and he’s absolutely appalled by what he sees. These aren’t people seeking benefits from the State. These are benefits from the State seeking people.

Groups of women in the street, many considerably overweight, some in pajamas at 2-o’clock in the afternoon. Many dragging small children behind them. A party-like atmosphere. Yelling and cursing and celebrating the “money truck”. Many young men lurking in the background, waiting to approach the women as they leave the truck. My cousin’s summation was that the whole thing was just “surreal”.

These aren’t “bad” people. They just don’t know any better. Or more succinctly, this IS what they know. We’ve allowed our social safety nets to evolve into this “hammock of despair”(I might trademark that). We have developed an entire culture of dependency and failure that is destroying those we presume to be helping. This is obviously an extreme example, but in our city you can get assistance for housing, utilities, food, education, transportation, medical, etc, etc.

I wouldn’t want to live like that & I know many of the educated folks on this blog wouldn’t either. However, there is a large(and growing) segment of our population that do choose to live like this. We expect so little of people and then trap them in this cycle of dependency that allows for subsistence living with all of its inherent shortcomings. Then we’re surprised when their kids follow the same path. We’re surprised when their kids don’t have the tools to perform in school along side kids from “normal” families. Many of these kids have never seen a “normal” family. That’s not the byproduct of our social experiments with the poor. It’s quite the opposite. The State is your family, your caregiver, your breadwinner, your disciplinarian, your EVERYTHING. Except that it’s not. It can’t replicate a real family.

I’m not a Conservative and I’m not religious. I just come from an awesome family and I KNOW that was the biggest factor in my finding success in life. I also have degrees in Anthropology and History. There are ‘cultures’ of success and ‘cultures’ of failure. We have to stop celebrating, tolerating and abetting failure. You spread behavior when you allow it to become normalized. Poverty has become it’s own business and business is good.

Tabitha

May 16th, 2012
6:37 pm

This president’s policies have been a disaster for the poor and for minorities. It was utterly predictable but it’s also predictable that those who are most damaged by the creeping, soft, socialistic policies of the democrats will not see the real cause of thier suffering.

The solution from the democrats is more and more spending on social service programs. These programs, sadly, don’t work and often actually hurt the people they are designed to help.

bootney farnsworth

May 16th, 2012
7:05 pm

once again, another study discovers water is wet

Ron F.

May 16th, 2012
7:05 pm

Tabitha: the “policies” have been in place a LONG time, and government waste isn’t something new. We didn’t notice or chose not to pay attention when the economy was good. It’s hard to blame this president when he can’t get congress to agree on anything, let alone vote for anything he supports. What exact policies are you referring to? It’s a nice line of rhetoric, but has little substance when you consider that the very same policies for social services were in place a long time before the current president took office.

Ron F.

May 16th, 2012
7:11 pm

Once Again: You’re almost right. Johnson’s ideas were lofty and had some merit, but where he and others missed the mark was throwing money at a problem that isn’t solvable with money alone. You have to offer aid on a short term basis, coupled with job training/education that truly addresses the attitudes that need to change in order for poverty to end. I’ve studied poverty a lot working in a Title I school, and changing the thinking of people in poverty takes time and a whole lot more effort than most people, teachers included, really want to give it. Many don’t understand that folks in poverty need help learning how to think like the middle class in order for them to successfully enter it and stay there. True reform of entitlements won’t happen until we quit making it a politically divisive issue and really get our representatives to work together to talk about how to change it. Johnson had a good idea but a very bad application of it.

SFSD

May 16th, 2012
7:13 pm

I am the one that approves free & reduced applications. The rules are absurb. If, a member of a household lists no income, the systems cannot try to verify no income. We are only allowed to verify income listed. It does not matter if the income submitted is only a few hundred dollars per month, we must approve the application. There is no way that someone can actually live with a couple of kids, including a cell phone number, with an income of $400.00 per month with no food stamp or other aid.
The federal government has relaxed the rules

Parent Teacher

May 16th, 2012
7:16 pm

You don’t have to be a “Christian” to have strong morals. Many christian families don’t follow the morals set forth by Jesus, Faith, Hope and Love. The greatest of thes is Love.

Many people from other religious backgrounds, Jewish, Hindu, Budahist, and yes your average follower of Islam have strong morals and perform well in school as well as in life.

Public HS Teacher

May 16th, 2012
7:17 pm

@Pluto….

You write, “You sir/ma’am are a typical liberal of self importance and enlightenment. If I had your writing skills, I would work to improve them.”

Does that mean that YOU are a typical conservative of self importance and enlightenment? LOL!!! You “instruct” me to improve my writing skills. LOL!!!

If you try to mimic the conservative rhetoric, you do need to improve THAT!! Isn’t that why they call you a “ditto-head”?

Public HS Teacher

May 16th, 2012
7:26 pm

@OMG –

The need for the LAW to recognize same sex marriage is clear. Why cannot you see that?

No one is saying that you personally need to be happy about it. No one is saying that ANY religon needs to agree with it.

Example: Two adults in a 20 year ‘marriage’ are happy. One falls ill and is in the hospital. The other has NO legal right/ability to visit their partner in the hospital. The hospital does not allow it. The sick one is in the hospital for 2 weeks and dies. The partner never even has a chance to say goodbye.

How can you think this is okay?

Example: Legally ‘married’ people can tax deductions to support their children. Another ‘married’ couple has two adopted children but cannot take the same tax deductions.

How can you think this is okay?

There are many many examples like this. Laws on on the books locally, by State, and Federally to support legally married couples. And, THIS is what it is all about.

By the way, the “one man and one woman” definition has not done too well. There is (and has been) only a 50% success rate in the US. Same sex couples can only help to improve that stat!!!

TheGoldenRam

May 16th, 2012
7:38 pm

This problem, like many of the big ones, is not going to be effectively addressed by politics. Maybe the truth lies in that. Poverty can’t be solved on a large scale because there is no effective mechanism to address it. Every President in our country’s history has had to address poverty. Early Presidents might have had to decide what an allowable starvation rate would be for the populace. These days, the calculus is a bit less harsh, but it’s there nonetheless. Democrats know that a downside of expansive social programs is an increase in dependency amongst the vulnerable. Republicans know that a downside of vast financial deregulation is going to be predatory practices amongst the vulnerable. Those are just two small examples. There are ‘winners’ & ‘losers’ on both sides of every big political calculation.

The reason this is a great theme on an education blog is because the answer does lie in education(in both the conventional & the abstract). Stupid people do stupid things. Ignorant people do ignorant things. Naive people get tricked and exploited. It’s all in what you know. Or don’t know. We have to teach them, as best we can, what it means to be a member of a family, a society, a business, a classroom, a democracy; even the responsibility of being a human being. That’s the $64K question. How do you get through to these people? Especially how do you get through to them when the implements of our intentions are so often dull & ineffective themselves?

I also think that there is much to be said for expectations. It’s the underlying concept that those who prescribe religion are reaching for. It’s not the God or religion that solves the problems, it’s the expectations felt by affiliation that brings the personal & collective benefits. Many, like myself, don’t need a God to dictate expectations. However, we all benefit from positive expectations that are shared with sincerity. I hate political correctness. I hate ‘the soft bigotry of low expectations’. Great countries, great families, great schools, great companies…All expect more of their members. It has to start there.

We have to show more respect for intelligence & morality and we have to show more disdain for ignorance and immorality. Our society sends all kinds of mixed signals and then wonders why we have so many problems.

Parent Teacher

May 16th, 2012
8:08 pm

@The Golden Ram
Very well said.

TimeOut

May 16th, 2012
8:15 pm

Today, I received a call from DFCS. I will be taking custody of my granddaughter because one of my four adopted children has decided that she lilkes her thug boyfriends and her heroin more than her fourteen-month-old baby. If I review the years of assistance our child received since she achieved double digits (11), it would compare to the annual budgets of many a small town. There is a white elephant in the room that we don’t discuss: personal choice. Our daughter had DFCS intervention in her life, massive expenditures on physical and mental health through her adoptive parents, and yet she CHOSE to value the negative aspects of thug culture and to resist the larger society’s expectations for personal responsibility. Yet, among her extended birth family there was more than one university professor, one highly successful building contractor, and many others who chose to lead normal, productive lives as citizens of a bordering country. As our daughter was born in the United States, none wanted to deprive her of American citizenship and supported our adoption of her and her siblings. Few people have had the level of early intervention and support that our children received. We are educated, determined people. We left no stone unturned in our quest to help them reach their potential. Her older brother is a twice-decorated marine. Her younger brother has just entered the service. Yet, she continues to be ‘proud’ of the criminal record of her latest thug boyfriend. Genetics may have a stronger influence than environment. PERSONAL CHOICE trumps them both. We don’t need to ‘enable’ this group within our society any more. We need to protect others from their poor choices as much as possible and let them experience the natural consequences of the ‘heroin chic’ life. If someone wants to live inside the Jerry Springer Show, the rest of us should not have to pay for the tickets.

Jordan Kohanim

May 16th, 2012
8:25 pm

@GoldenRam. Agreed w/ ParentTeacher–well said. Your first post is horrifying (and I’m sure true). Your second post is insightful. Thanks for posting!

catlady

May 16th, 2012
9:07 pm

Another no-duh! It’s the parents or their stand-ins, which is NOT the school. It can be a school person, but as for the school in general, no.

Ms. Downey, read the book, “How the Poor Get to College.” It follows several young people that had every strike against them, but DID succeed because someone identified them and said, “You belong in college.” They may not have given them any financial help, but they (sometimes literally) loaded them up in the car and dumped them at the college door.

This is not to say we don’t need a safety net, but it should work for the short and long term betterment of the child, which may mean kicking the parents in the *** or removing the child from the home.

Kids need food. They need a safe home. They need mental stimulation. All these things should be provided by the parents. In some cases, society has to step in and take care of the needs for the short term, while putting in place “incentives” (punishments, sometimes) for parents’ failure to provide for their children. At some point, some parents need to be put in jail for not providing the necessities for their children.

In my rural area, we have multiple feeding opportunities for children and families. It actually boggles the mind. While some are run by philanthropic groups, some are run on the taxpayer dime. There are VERy FEw families in this area who can’t grow some of their own food, if they get off their lazy duffs. That should be REQUIRED in our area unless the family can show their entire yard is concrete. Seeds are available with food stamps (SNAP). This is one way that the short term solution can lead to a longer term solution.

People on welfare should be required to work for the public good, unless they are so debilitated that they cannot hold a broom or a pencil. That addresses short and long term needs. Drunks and drug addicts should not be eligible for disability, housing, etc. A little have-to goes a long way to cure many ills.

If I sound a little impatient, it is because I have watched what has happened in our schools/society over the last 4 decades I have been an educator. It isn’t pretty. We should be aware of short-term needs, but build in the movement toward long term sufficiency.

V for Vendetta

May 16th, 2012
9:07 pm

@GoldenRam,

Well done.

@TimeOut,

Thanks for sharing that story. I have two cousins who were adopted with much the same result. One turned out great. The other will probably die in a ditch. Genetics is mostly to blame, but it drove them to make choices that altered the outcome of their lives in profound ways.

Atlanta Mom

May 16th, 2012
9:42 pm

Ms. Downey’s conclusion of this study seems to be “The risk factors for behavioral problems did not appear to be mitigated by stronger social services”
What I conclude from this excerpt is that students do better with two parents. This is a completely diffent conclusion.

Ron F.

May 16th, 2012
9:45 pm

@GoldenRam: You should read A Framework For Understanding Poverty. It’s a book I use often in working with children from poverty. It details the hidden codes present in each social class and helped me understand the barriers I have to try to get my kids past in order for them to have a chance to move out of poverty. Your post is well-written and sadly true in our country and I am sure most other developed nations. We will never completely eradicate poverty, but I firmly believe we can do more once we understand the needs better. And I fully believe it is incumbent upon schools to know and honestly deal with the children. This is perhaps the reason I’m so concerned about current education reform movements. We’re not trying to address the real needs of kids in poverty and instead opting for an escape route for those who have the skills to be in the middle class. It is sad that the one equalizer in our society could be irrevocably changed and the neediest left further behind.

Long time educator

May 16th, 2012
9:54 pm

Catlady,
Well said. I agree completely.

Mary Elizabeth

May 17th, 2012
1:16 am

“The researchers—from North Carolina State University, California State University-Northridge, and the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign—evaluated data from a 1994 study of children between the ages of five and 13 in the U.S. and a 1991 study of children in the same age range from England, Scotland, and Wales.”
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This study was formed from data accrued for a single year (1994 for the U.S. and 1991 for Great Britain). It seems logical that children would fare better if they were the products of a stable home environment. However, poverty minimizes the possibility for a stable home life. Certainly, that was true during the Great Depression of the 1930s in the U.S., when families were broken apart because of severe poverty and people were committing suicide because of it. Over time in the U.S., especially with the social safety nets and government programs, such as the GI Bill, which were established under FDR’s administration, families were able to rebuilt into more stable middle class economic home environments. However, to accomplish that economic rebuilding took years to achieve. How families were impacted, over generations, regarding the effects of poverty on family stability would need a data analysis of decades instead of only one year’s data analysis, which accounts for no history. Data accrued simply in a single year would not demonstrate how the factors mentioned above would effect present day family structures and dynamics.

Moreover, the poverty within the African-American community has been unique to America and that poverty has had generations in the making, going back to the slavery of the Nineteenth Century in the U.S. through the Jim Crow American South which stretched from end of the Nineteenth Century through the middle of the Twentieth Century. Great Britain’s history, over decades and even generations, did not contain these unfortunate elements, which America’s social programs have helped to improve over time, including the extreme poverty and imposed illiteracy within the African-American community.

This study appears to lack the richness of many years of data, as well as a full positing of reasons for the lack of stability in families in the two countries. One cannot compare apples with oranges, with validity. In my opinion, this study lacks depth from several standpoints.