Kids from Poverty Are (Sorta’) Resilient

Kids Poverty Alex Proimos fotopedia

When I look at children in Allendale, most of whom are living in poverty or near-poverty, I am often amazed about how resourceful and tough they are. With minimal access to resources (like automobiles, money, and safe places to play), they can figure things out. And despite the stressors that are common to those in poverty, many students not only survive, but find a way to thrive in life.

However, the effects of those stressors builds up over time, and a study by the Center for Family Research shows that this resiliency may only be “skin deep.”

Here are some findings:

“Exposure to stress over time gets under the skin of children and adolescents, which makes them more vulnerable to disease later in life.”

“We see the success-oriented, highly active coping style these youth employed in the presence of high risk is associated with cumulative wear and tear on their bodies that increases the risk for these young adults for the chronic diseases of aging.”

“The findings support the suggestion that poor health and health disparities during adulthood are tied to earlier experiences. Youths who don’t cope as well, have low self-esteem and struggle in school and with friends show elevated levels of stress hormones, blood pressure and body mass index, or BMI, as well.”

For those who grow up in poverty, it is especially important for them to have their health regularly monitored, even as adults. And often the effect of these stressors is more short-term than long-term. We see children that have nagging colds, or football players that have nagging injuries. From a completely subjective perspective, there seems to be some sort of frailty for children growing up in poverty.

And for the rest of us, I think this shows the importance of giving nurture and care to children who are growing up in these stress-causing situations.

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**image courtesy of Alex Proimos via Creative Commons

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