Boys Moved Out of Poverty Suffer War-Like PTSD

But it's a great benefit to girls, says study

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 12, 2014 7:27 AM CDT | Updated Mar 12, 2014 7:40 AM CDT

(Newser) – It might seem like a can't-miss idea for kids in poverty: Move them from poor neighborhoods into better ones. But a comprehensive study of the practice finds a surprising twist: It tends to work well for girls and badly for boys, reports Science 2.0. In fact, years later, the boys report levels of PTSD comparable to veterans of war, along with higher rates of depression and behavioral problems than their female peers, reports HealthDay. Researchers in the Journal of the American Medical Association say it's largely about the richer neighborhoods' attitude toward the newcomers.

"When the boys came into the new neighborhood they were coded as these juvenile delinquents,” Harvard professor Ronald Kessler tells the New Republic. “Whereas with the girls, it was exactly the opposite. They were embraced by the community—‘you poor little disadvantaged thing, let me help you.’" The study looked at 4,600 families in public housing, some of whom got vouchers to move out. Researchers say the results suggest that boys in such situations need more attention, perhaps through case workers or programs such as Big Brothers Big Sisters. (Click to read about how PTSD is going undiagnosed among civilians in high-crime cities across the US.)

  (Shutterstock)
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