Girls growing up in troubled families are four times more resilient than boys in overcoming such adverse experiences, according to a new study.
The researchers found that 70 percent of the children were exposed to two or more of adverse events such as having a heroin-addicted parent, these experiences include family mental illness, having a parent jailed, family violence, being a victim of abuse and having a parent die, and girls were more resilient than boys in overcoming such adverse events.
In addition, 62 percent had three or more adverse experiences and 22 percent reported four or more.
"These are very high-risk kids with at least one parent who is addicted to heroin," said Martie Skinner, a research scientist with the University of Washington''s Social Development Research Group and lead author of a new study.
"What we mean by resilience is a reasonable transition to adulthood by working or being in school, avoiding substance abuse and staying out of trouble with the law in the past five years.
“These seem like ordinary expectations, but only 30 of the 125 young adults we studied met them," Skinner added.
She said women were more likely to be resilient, primarily because males were more likely to have had criminal charges.
In addition to having a drug-addicted parent, the most common detrimental events experienced during childhood in the study were having a parent who was jailed (84 percent) and having mental illness in the family (78 percent).
Skinner said the study “indicates that there are early warning signs, and if children get the attention they need to meet early problems it can reduce the burden on society later on in caring for them."
The study was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.