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Boys Suffer More from Poverty than Girls

November 2, 2015
Plain English Version

boy behavior

From birth, boys from lower-income or single-parent homes face problems. The problems are even greater if the boy is black, Latino or an immigrant.

It boils down to the difference in gender. Some experts believe the differences begin even before birth. Boy fetuses are more sensitive to any stress the mother may undergo.

No matter the circumstances,  boys in lower-income, single-parent families do not do as well as their sisters. It is especially true in families without an active, involved father.

It is not news that poverty and family composition are important in the lives of children. Nor is it news that boys in lower-income, single-parent families seem to have more problems as they grow up. By the time such boys start kindergarten, they are less prepared than their sisters. The gap keeps widening.

Boys are more likely to:

  • Be suspended
  • Skip school
  • Perform poorly on standardized tests
  • Drop out of high school
  • Commit crimes as juveniles
  • Have behavioral or learning disabilities

A study found that boys in well-off families have almost the same test scores as their sisters. In poor, black and Latino families, boys are more than twice as likely not to test as well as their sisters.

Boys tend to have more behavioral problems than girls. But the behavioral problems of black and Latino boys tend to be much worse. Most of the problems are said to be related to poverty.

The absence of a father plays another important role. Girls have the opportunity to identify with their mothers. They support each other. Boys in a fatherless family do not have a role model.

The solution is for parents and society to recognize the importance of investing more in boys. Single mothers need to spend more time with their sons. Absent fathers need to become present in the lives of their sons. Schools and programs need to intervene earlier to reach boys and give them support.

Source: The New York Times October 22, 2015

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