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Nearly 30 percent of children living in poverty experience three or more reported adversities in their adolescence — a rate nearly six times that of their middle- and upper-class peers, according to a new report.

The Center for Promise, the applied research institute of America’s Promise Alliance, also found that multiple adversities often put young people at increased risk of performing poorly in school or dropping out. And despite increased high school graduation and college completion rates, declining teen pregnancy rates and less risky behavior among teens, many young people — particularly those in low-income communities — are not thriving.

“This report presents us with insights into the severe struggles that too many youth in our country face and the long-term consequences of these struggles,” said Dr. Jonathan Zaff, executive director of Center for Promise. “Children of color and children living below the federal poverty line are much more likely to experience myriad adversities in their homes and throughout their communities. Despite these struggles, we see many of these same youth succeed in school and in life.

“Our research shows that social supports from family and other adults in their lives and social supports for young people’s parents can help youth overcome their struggles,” Zaff said.

Adversities accounted for in the study include economic hardship, parental divorce, incarceration or death of a parent, domestic violence, neighborhood violence, mental illness in a family member and a family member dealing with substance abuse.

To access the full report, graphics and other resources, visit

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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