Collective violence and poverty on the Mexican-US border affects child mental health

October 19, 2012

Collective violence attributed to organized crime and poverty are adversely affecting the mental health of children living near the Texas-Mexico border, according to a poster presented Oct. 19 at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans.

In the study, "Children's Mental Health and Collective Violence: A Bi-National Study on the United States/," researchers compared psychosocial and behavior scores among children and adolescents living in El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico in 2007 and again in 2010. All the participating children were of Hispanic origin (Mexican or Mexican-American), lived below the and went to a clinic for a non-emergency visit. None of the children had a history of diagnosed mental illness, or a neurological or life-threatening disease or disability.

The psychosocial and behavioral scores among children living in poverty in El Paso, Texas did not change significantly between 2007 and 2010, although these children living in poverty had considerable psychosocial and behavioral problems, said study author Marie Leiner, PhD.

At the Mexican site, however, children exhibited significant increases in social problems, rule breaking and , with higher scores reported in 2010.

"There is cumulative harm to the mental health of children from the combination of collective violence attributed to organized crime and poverty," said Dr. Leiner. "Untreated predict violence, anti-social behaviors and delinquency, and this affects families, communities and individuals.

"It is crucial to address the mental health of children on the border to counteract the devastating effects this setting will have in the future."

Explore further: One million more children living in poverty since 2009, new census data released today shows

Related Stories

One million more children living in poverty since 2009, new census data released today shows

September 22, 2011
Between 2009 and 2010, one million more children in America joined the ranks of those living in poverty, bringing the total to an estimated 15.7 million poor children in 2010, an increase of 2.6 million since the recession ...

In Northern Ireland, political violence harms youths through families

February 8, 2012
War, the aftermath of war, and political violence are harmful to children's and teens' mental health and well-being. But few studies have looked at how this happens. A new longitudinal study of neighborhoods in Belfast, Northern ...

Recommended for you

To reduce postoperative pain, consider sleep—and caffeine

August 18, 2017
Sleep is essential for good mental and physical health, and chronic insufficient sleep increases the risk for several chronic health problems.

Despite benefits, half of parents against later school start times

August 18, 2017
Leading pediatrics and sleep associations agree: Teens shouldn't start school so early.

Doctors exploring how to prescribe income security

August 18, 2017
Physicians at St. Michael's Hospital are studying how full-time income support workers hired by health-care clinics can help vulnerable patients or those living in poverty improve their finances and their health.

Schoolchildren who use e-cigarettes are more likely to try tobacco

August 17, 2017
Vaping - or the use of e-cigarettes - is widely accepted as a safer option for people who are already smoking.

Federal snack program does not yield expected impacts, researchers find

August 17, 2017
A well-intentioned government regulation designed to offer healthier options in school vending machines has failed to instill better snacking habits in a sample of schools in Appalachian Virginia, according to a study by ...

Study shows cigarette makers shifted stance on nicotine patches, gum

August 17, 2017
The use of nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, inhalers or nasal sprays—together called "nicotine replacement therapy," or NRT—came into play in 1984 as prescription medicine, which when combined with counseling, helped ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.