Teenage bad behaviour is sign of troubled adult life: study

January 17th, 2009 - 1:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Jan 17 (IANS) Troubled teenage years are signs of mental illness, family conflict and financial trouble in adulthood, says a Canadian study.In his study, Alberta University epidemiologist Ian Colman says people who exhibited bad behaviour in early teenage years were far more likely than their well-behaved classmates to leave school early and face mental illness, family conflict and financial troubles in their later life.

“This research suggests that conduct difficulties in adolescence are not just a short-term problem that disappears when children grow up and mature,” a university release quoted Colman as saying.

He said his study proves that adolescent problems are often “indicative of more serious problems in creating and maintaining positive social relationships, and this inability to function pro-socially has a long-term effect on the young adult’s ability to maintain good mental health, stable employment and a happy family life”.

The study is based on the data gleaned from an ongoing, long-term British study - called the 1946 British Birth Cohort - which has been tracking 5,000 British citizens who were born within one week of each other in March 1946.

As part of his research, Colman studied the questionnaires filled out by these British citizens when they were between the ages of 13 and 15, to look at their conduct at school: whether they indulged in disobedience, lying, truancy, responded poorly to discipline and were being restless or daydreaming, the release said.

From their conduct study, Colman grouped them into three categories - those with severe conduct problems, those with mild conduct problems and those with n0o conduct problems.

Then he compared this data to these people’s behavioural data as adults.

He found that of the 29 percent of the people who had teenage behavioural problems (mild and severe) were two and three times more likely to experience problems in adulthood than their well-behaved counterparts.

Colman said his study - which also factored in the family social class, an impoverished environment, cognitive ability, symptoms of depression and anxiety and gender of the subjects - showed that even mild teenage conduct problems predicted a life of hardship.

“They were more likely to leave school early, be involved in a teenage pregnancy and/or in adulthood abuse alcohol, be divorced and have lower paying jobs,” he said.

The university statement said Colman’s research adds to the mounting evidence that society is paying a heavy financial price in terms of huge costs of education, welfare, crime and health care for neglect during teenage years.

“I think we need to look at what’s different about those kids and single out what were the things that supported them in getting their lives back on track,” Colman said.

The findings will be published in the Jan 24 edition of The British Medical Journal.

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