Study: Children in deprived areas are more resilient

A survey of hundreds of primary school children from traditionally disadvantaged areas has shown the vast majority are very resilient and in many cases are performing better than the national norm.

The research was conducted by youth support organisation Archways and examined the well-being of children aged seven, 10 and 12 years living in the Dublin suburb of Clondalkin, and in Drogheda and Dundalk in Co Louth.

The full report surveyed more than 850 children. As part of it, Archways measured the resilience of children in 4th and 6th classes.

Entitled ‘How Are They Doing? A Community Perspective on Child Well-Being’, it looked at a sample of 555 children split between the two primary level classes and showed that children from traditionally disadvantaged areas demonstrated a highly robust sense of resilience, with 83.2% of girls in the 4th range or the highest sense of resilience, and 74.9% of boys in the 4th range.

According to Archways. analysis of the results indicates performance outcomes for children from demographically deprived areas should be re-examined and resiliency in both genders was at a higher level than expected, although girls proved more resilient on the scale at both 4th class and 6th class level than boys.

The study, commissioned by the government-funded Blue Skies Initiative and the Genesis Programme, is the first of its kind to be conducted in Ireland. The full report will be launched next Monday.

Caitriona Delaney, Researcher with the Blue Skies Initiative, said: “The findings have proven to be unexpected as the perception within the wider research, and amongst many in the public sphere, is that children in marginalised communities have low levels of resilience and wellbeing.

“This presumption is linked with the series of challenges often faced by those in disadvantaged areas. Many of the children have grown up in what could be described as difficult environments, burdened by poverty, unemployment, crime and violence, and parents experiencing difficulties.

“Overall, we felt that the data produced would demonstrate that the obstacles faced by these children would prove overwhelming for the majority of them and that we would see this manifest in the children’s sense of self and wellbeing.

“However, the findings from this study have contradicted our initial stand-point.

“One possible explanation for the favourable findings is that these children have had access to more internal and external resources than their peers in other areas. Particularly, evidence-based programmes and interventions.

“Both Clondalkin and Louth have invested heavily over the last 10 years in the Incredible Years programmes for both teachers and parents. These areas have also benefitted from DEIS supports.”

Karen Costello, project coordinator with Blue Skies Initiative, said: “The results of this current study show that investment in the children of North and Southwest Clondalkin and Louth has made a difference.”

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