Published Online: April 3, 2002
Published in Print: April 3, 2002, as Children & Families

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Signs of Depression

Mothers on welfare are more likely than other people to show symptoms of depression—a condition that can lead to future problems for their children, according to a recent study conducted by researchers at Child Trends.

The authors reviewed research on seven welfare- to-work programs and found that 30 percent to 45 percent of those mothers on public assistance, or who recently had gone off it, reported signs of depression, compared with 20 percent of the general population.

From interviews with the mothers, the researchers found that 5- to 7-year-old children with depressed mothers were more likely to be disobedient and bullying than other children from that age group in the population at large.

When they were 8 to 10 years old, the children themselves showed symptoms of depression, such as low self-esteem.

"Children receiving public assistance are already at greater risk than other children," observed Sharon McGroder, one of the authors of the study and a senior research associate at Child Trends, a research organization based in Washington. "They are hit doubly hard if their mothers are depressed."

The research brief, "Symptoms of Depression Among Welfare Recipients: A Concern for Two Generations," is available on the Web at www.childtrends.org.

Research Initiative

Researchers at the the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Center for Developmental Science have received a $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to launch a research program focusing on children.Research Initiative: Researchers at the the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Center for Developmental Science have received a $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to launch a research program focusing on children.

The grant is part of the federal science agency's Children's Research Initiative.

The purpose of the new North Carolina Child Development Research Collaborative will be to bring together experts from such fields as biology, sociology, public health, and psychology to study child development in a comprehensive way.

Under the grant, researchers will conduct a longitudinal study of 200 young children from the Chapel Hill area, focusing on their biological, social, emotional, and mental development. Another goal of the research initiative will be to provide policy recommendations.

"One of the many things we're going to do is to get the word out to policymakers, members of Congress, and others that we must recognize the complexity of children's development and not allow oversimplified accounts to direct our policies toward children," said Martha J. Cox, the director of the center.

—Linda Jacobson ljacobs@epe.org

Vol. 21, Issue 29, Page 7

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