Strong Family Equals Strong Education

Single mothers, poverty were big factors in school performance

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TUESDAY, Aug. 17, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- American teenagers who live with poor single mothers are more likely to get into trouble at school and have poor marks and are less likely to think they'll go to college, says a Rice University study.

Holly Heard, an assistant professor of sociology, analyzed data from thousands of teens who took part in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.

She sought to determine whether the economic hardship often found in single-parent households increased teens' risks for poorer grade point averages, increased school disciplinary problems, and low expectations for college education.

The study revealed that income had a "strong" association with all three school outcomes, "and consistently explained the deficits faced by children living with single mothers," Heard said in a prepared statement.

Single-mother families are among those most likely to fall below the poverty line for a family of four, Heard noted.

"Single mothers may not feel that they have the financial resources to pay for their adolescents' education and thus do not make as strong of an effort to encourage their children to attend college," Heard said.

"However, it is also possible that, despite their economic deprivation, single mothers who do hope their children will receive a college education are less able to convey that goal to their children effectively," she said.

The study was presented Aug. 17 at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in San Francisco.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has information about single parenting.

SOURCE: Rice University, news release, Aug. 17, 2004

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