Study Finds Black Children Cope Better With Problems in Their Environment Than Their White Peers

Melvin Wilson, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, recently completed an eight-year study of white, black, and Hispanic children in three different regions of the country. His research, published in the journal Prevention Science, found that black children had the highest exposure to risk factors that lead to behavioral problems. These factors included high rates of mobility, low or fluctuating family income, substance abuse by parents, being raised in single-parent homes, and living in high-crime neighborhoods.

But despite the high exposure to these risk factors, black children showed no higher incidence of behavioral problems such as deviant behavior, violence, or being disruptive in school than white or Hispanic children. Professor Wilson believes that black children who are exposed to many risk factors develop a sort of immunity allowing them to better cope with the problems of life.

Professor Wilson’s study did show that many black children tended to “internalize” their problems associated with the various risk factors. While these black children were no more likely than their peers to develop behavioral disorders, the study states that the internalization of problems by black youth could lead to greater stress, anxiety, and depression.