Minor Problems

Kevin Lewis

September 17, 2023

Geographic and Sociodemographic Variations in Prevalence of Mental Health Symptoms Among US Youths, 2022
Junxiu Liu et al.
American Journal of Public Health, October 2023, Pages 1116-1119 

Methods: We analyzed data from the Household Pulse Survey, phases 3.5 and 3.6, between June 1 and November 14, 2022. The sample included 103,296 households with an estimated 190,017 youths younger than 18 years. We defined mental health symptoms based on parental responses and estimated prevalence by state and subgroups, including race/ethnicity, parental education, household income, housing tenure, household food sufficiency, and health insurance coverage. All analyses incorporated sampling weight.

Results: An estimated 34.5% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 33.7%, 35.3%) of youths had parent-reported mental health symptoms. The prevalence of symptoms varied across states, ranging from 27.9% (95% CI = 23.8%, 32.0%) in Florida to 46.4% (95% CI = 41.9%, 50.9%) in New Hampshire. We observed variations by subgroup, with youths in households that did not pay rent reporting a prevalence of 43.8% (95% CI = 39.3%, 48.4%) and those experiencing food insufficiency reporting a prevalence of 56.0% (95% CI = 50.9%, 61.2%).

The effects of spanking on psychosocial outcomes: Revisiting genetic and environmental covariation
Nicole Barbaro et al.
Journal of Experimental Criminology, September 2023, Pages 713-742 

Participants and setting: The analytic sample for Study 1 was secured from the Children of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (CNLSY) and consisted of 2868 respondents (siblings and half-siblings). The data for Study 2 were secured from the published literature.

Methods: Study 1 analyzed the data from the CNLSY using univariate ACE models and bivariate Cholesky decomposition models. Study 2 used simulation modeling to provide a summative evaluation of the psychosocial effects of spanking with regard to genetic and nonshared environmental covariation.

Results: Study 1 replicated previous work showing that associations between spanking and outcomes of delinquency, depression, and alcohol use were explained by moderate-to-large degrees of genetic covariation and small-to-moderate degrees of nonshared environmental covariation. Simulation estimates from Study 2 suggest that genetic covariation accounts for a substantial amount of the phenotypic effect between spanking and psychosocial outcomes (≈60–80%), with the remainder attributable to nonshared environmental covariation (≈0–40%).

Associations between parental precarious work schedules and child behavior problems among low-income families
Anna Walther & Alejandra Ros Pilarz
Journal of Marriage and Family, forthcoming 

Method: This study uses data from a survey of child-care subsidy recipients to test the associations between five dimensions of parental precarious work schedules—variable work hours and shifts, limited advance notice, unexpected schedule changes, and lack of schedule control—and child externalizing behavior problems via work–care conflict, economic insecurity, and child-care instability. Analyses use Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) regression and decomposition methods and control for a host of child, parental, and household characteristics.

Results: Variable shifts were indirectly associated with more parent-reported child behavior problems via work–care conflict, whereas unexpected schedule changes were indirectly associated with more behavior problems via both work–care conflict and material hardship.

The Perils of Not Being Attractive or Athletic: Pathways to Adolescent Adjustment Difficulties Through Escalating Unpopularity 
Mary Page Leggett-James et al.
Journal of Youth and Adolescence, November 2023, Pages 2231–2242 


Adolescents who lack traits valued by peers are at risk for adjustment difficulties but the mechanisms responsible for deteriorating well-being have yet to be identified. The present study examines processes whereby low athleticism and low attractiveness give rise to adolescent adjustment difficulties. Participants were public middle school students (ages 10 to 13 years, Mage = 11.54, SDage = 1.00) in the USA and Lithuania (300 girls, 280 boys; 52.7% girls). Self-reports of alcohol misuse and loneliness were collected three times during an academic year (M = 12.3 week intervals). Athleticism, attractiveness, unpopularity, and peer rejection were assessed through peer nominations. Full longitudinal mediation analyses examined direct and indirect pathways from stigmatized traits (i.e., low athleticism, low attractiveness) to adjustment difficulties (i.e., alcohol misuse, loneliness) through two indices of low peer status: unpopularity and rejection. The results indicated that the possession of stigmatized traits predicted escalating unpopularity, which, in turn, predicted increasing adjustment difficulties. Similar indirect associations did not emerge with rejection as a mediator, underscoring the unique role of power and prominence (and the lack thereof) in socioemotional development. The findings underscore the adjustment risks and interpersonal challenges that confront children and adolescents who lack traits valued by peers.

Reconsidering the failure model: Using a genetically controlled design to assess the spread of problems from reactive aggression to internalizing symptoms through peer rejection across the primary school years
Sharon Faur et al.
Child Development, forthcoming 


According to the failure model (Patterson & Capaldi, 1990), peer rejection is the intermediary link between problem behaviors and internalizing symptoms. The present study tested the model with 464 monozygotic and same-sex dizygotic twin pairs (234 female, 230 male dyads). Teacher-reported reactive aggression and internalizing symptoms, and peer-reported peer rejection were collected at ages 6, 7, and 10 (from 2001 to 2008). Support for the failure model emerged in conventional non-genetically controlled analyses, but not twin-difference score analyses (which remove shared environmental and genetic contributions). Univariate biometric models attributed minimal variance in failure model variables to shared environmental factors, suggesting that genetic factors play an important unacknowledged role in developmental pathways historically ascribed to nonshared experiences in the failure model.


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