Internalizing and externalizing
August 2008 - Research from Ohio State University published in the Journal of Marital and
Family Therapy has challenged the common perception that girls tend to internalize their problems, becoming depressed or anxious, while boys externalize, committing violence against people or property.
Researchers studied 2549 young people appearing before juvenile courts in five Ohio counties and found that whether African-Americans internalized or externalized their problems was dependent on family circumstances rather than gender.
Stephen Gavazzi, professor of human development and family science said:
"If you look at most studies involving internalizing and externalizing among youth, they generally look at white, middle-class samples. Most research has not paid attention to race. And when studies do look at race, they are not likely to look at family and gender as well."
Researchers used their Global Risk Assessment Device (GRAD) an internet-based questionnaire for young people designed to assess risk of further problems in life and including issues such as previous involvement with the law, family and parenting, substance abuse and traumatic events. For example, respondents are asked about fights with adults in their homes, if they have friends who have been in trouble with the law, and if they have trouble controlling their anger.
The study found that once family circumstances were taken into account African-American girls and boys showed similar levels of externalizing and internalizing behavior being more likely to show outward aggression if they lived in families with higher levels of dysfunction. This relationship was not found in white families. Researchers are currently trying to identify characteristics of African-American families that may influence these findings; for example, family conflict and levels of parental monitoring.
Stephen Gavazzi commented:
"Family issues affect children in African-American families differently than they do in white families. That is something that really hasn't been found before .... Researchers who study ethnicity and culture have long noted the primacy of family for African Americans. That's telling us that families matter in a different way for African-American youth than what we're finding for whites."
July 2008 - Research from the University of Vermont and the University of Minnesota
published in Child Development found that young people with pre-existing relationship difficulties are more
likely to develop anxiety and depression than the other way round, this being particularly the case when entering
The study analyzed data from Project Competence which has followed 205 individuals from mid-childhood
(ages 8 to 12) into young adulthood. Researchers interviewed participants and questioned parents, teachers, and
classmates to measure "internalizing" of problems (symptoms such as anxiety, depression, or withdrawn state)
compared to social competence (healthy relationships). They then assessed the on-going relationship between
these parameters and whether they changed over time. Researchers found a significant degree of continuity: those
with more internalizing problems at the start were more likely to experience these problems in adolescence and young
adulthood; those who were socially competent maintained this as they grew up. Results were generally the same for
both males and females.
The study also found evidence of spill-over effects, where social problems contributed to increasing
internalizing symptoms over time. Those who were less socially competent in childhood were more likely to experience
anxiety or depression in adolescence. Similarly, lack of social competence in adolescence was associated with greater
risk of such symptoms in young adulthood. These findings remained the same when alternative explanations were taken
into account, such as intellectual functioning, the quality of parenting, social class, and antisocial behaviour
such as fighting, lying, and stealing.
Lead author Keith Burt, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Vermont said:
"Overall, our research suggests that social competence, such as acceptance by peers and developing healthy relationships, is a key influence in the development of future internalizing problems such as anxiety and depressed mood, especially over the transition years from adolescence into young adulthood. These results suggest that although internalizing problems have some stability across time, there is also room for intervention and change. More specifically, youth at risk for internalizing problems might benefit from interventions focused on building healthy relationships with peers."
Anger Management - an overused phrase that often provokes more anger than management. Anyone working with angry adolescents rapidly realizes that while attention may be on the consequences - damage, disruption, violence to self and others - anger won't be resolved unless underlying issues are listened to and addressed if possible.
Findings indicate that promotion of abstinence is insufficient by itself to help adolescents prevent unplanned pregnancies.
New research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) reveals
complex motivations behind street robbery in the UK. Rather than being simply an acquisitive crime, it commonly
reflects a damaged sense of self in the perpetrator resulting in a need for violence or revenge, or to increase
status among peers.
Children raised in antisocial families are more likely to be antisocial themselves.
Innovative new research to establish the best ways of engaging with homeless young people who are
without parents or carers has found that a comprehensive intervention program can dramatically improve
their mental health and life circumstances.
A new study by a number of co-authors published in the October issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental
Research examines how helpful parents may be in assessing their children's alcohol
and/or drug use and abuse. Findings indicate that they do not provide valuable
information because they are often unaware of it.