Friday, August 19, 2011

Stress and Early Childhood Poverty

Equal opportunity to succeed is a huge assumption for the loony right, but we have nothing like that in America.  Equality exists in the minds of the Teabaggers and nowhere else.  The correlation of achievement and socioeconomic class is stark and a new study explores another factor exacerbating this achievement gap: stress.
Childhood socioeconomic disadvantage leads to deficits in academic achievement and occupational attainment. It’s long been argued that such deficits arise because poor children are exposed to inadequate cognitive stimulation and to parenting styles that don’t encourage achievement. We don’t dispute the important role of these two variables. But we have outlined here evidence for a new, complementary pathway that links early childhood poverty to high levels of exposure to multiple risks, which in turn elevates chronic toxic stress. This cascade can begin very early in life. Even young babies growing up in low-income neighborhoods already evidence elevated chronic stress. This stress then accounts for a significant portion of the association between poverty and working memory, a critical cognitive skill involved in language and reading acquisition.

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