NEW ORLEANS – 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.
the study, “Children’s Mental Health and Collective Violence: A Bi-National
Study on the United States/Mexican Border,” 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 poverty level 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.
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.
the Mexican site, however, children exhibited significant increases in social
problems, rule breaking and aggressive behavior, with higher scores reported in
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 mental health problems predict violence, anti-social behaviors and
delinquency, and this affects families, communities and individuals.
is crucial to address the mental health of children on the border to counteract
the devastating effects this setting will have in the future.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary
care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical
specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants,
children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.