Trouble at Home, School Hurts Kids' Coping Skills

Even confident, achieving teens can fail to thrive, study finds

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TUESDAY, Nov. 23, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Family problems, poor neighborhoods and other key environmental factors can undermine the coping skills of adolescents -- even among kids with good grades or high self-esteem, according to a study by the Society for Research in Child Development.

The study of more than 5,000 adolescents across the United States focused on 15 risk factors in the adolescents' social world. These risk factors included parental/marital conflict, family poverty, weak parent-teen bonds, peer rejection, poor neighborhood conditions, weak attachment to school, and prejudice by students at school.

Teens who experienced several of these risk factors at the same time had higher levels of depression and behavioral problems than teens who experienced fewer of these risk factors, the study found.

The likelihood of emotional or behavioral problems was reduced among teens who had at least one "protective assets -- markers of personal strength, such as high self-esteem, good school grades, and good problem-solving skills.

However, the study concluded that teens are less likely to thrive if they have to deal with problems in multiple areas of their lives, even if the teens have protective assets that may help them deal with challenging environments.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about your teen's emotional health.

SOURCE: Society for Research in Child Development, news release, Nov. 15, 2004

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