Youth and teenagers with behavioral problems can be found in the halls of every school, although they might not be living up to their academic potential within that school. Every year, at-risk youth struggle to find their place in society, and can have trouble succeeding in school, maintaining social relationships, following basic rules of the community, and transitioning into functional adults. These kids don’t just come from anywhere, though. There are many possible underlying factors for why teenagers be classified as at-risk.
One of the most notable factors for many at-risk teens is their socioeconomic background. The issue of at-risk youth is a sociological factor, so it makes sense that class would play a major part into the likelihood that a child struggles with delinquent behavior and academics. In particular, children who are raised below the poverty line have a much higher probability of being an at-risk teen. This is a major issue, as around 20% of children in the United States live at or below the poverty line.
Stable family environments are an important component of a child’s emotional well-being and help build a better behavioral foundation. When children lack this type of healthy living environment, it can have a profound psychological impact, especially when it is because of parental problems. In particular, exposure to mental, emotional, or physical abuse drastically increases the chances that a child will be classified as at-risk, and increases the likelihood of behavioral issues, such as criminal behavior or substance abuse, in later life.
The probability of being an at-risk teen doesn’t decrease on a steady line as you move up the economic ladder. Surprisingly, the kids who have the highest likelihood of suffering from the mental disorders, behavioral problems, and academic struggles that lead to an at-risk status are those who come from wealthy and affluent families, despite their inherent status advantages. Because of this, the rate of at-risk youth is equally as high for the highest and lowest classes, but not the middle classes. This phenomenon was discovered and explored in 2004, and has changed the way that we research the causes of at-risk youth.