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Parents Aren't Only Ones Who Feel Stress of Unemployment
Date:3/25/2010

Joblessness also affects children's health and well-being, experts say

THURSDAY, March 25 (HealthDay News) -- With nearly 10 percent of the nation's workforce unemployed, the emotional impact of a job loss is well-known to millions of Americans. But the psychological fallout can be equally tough for their children.

Children living in homes where at least one parent is jobless potentially face a range of emotional issues -- from stress and depression to poor school performance and behavioral problems. What's more, the lower standard of living and loss of health insurance often lead to poor health for many of these children, experts said.

"Whenever there's a downturn, it's the kids who suffer a significant burden," said Dr. Christopher Bellonci, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston. "When families are doing well, they can buffer some of this stress. When they can't, it bleeds through to the kids."

Nationally, one in seven children (10.5 million kids) has an unemployed parent, said Dr. Audrey Walker, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at the Children's Hospital of Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.

In a recent CBS News/New York Times poll of more than 700 unemployed adults, nearly half of those who reported being unemployed for six months or more said their children's lives had changed; nearly 40 percent said they had noticed changes in their children's behavior.

For children raised in comfortable middle-class families, this may be their first taste of hardship. For those who come from already disadvantaged homes, the further loss of income means even greater stress. Basic staples like food, clothing and school supplies begin to diminish. Long-term unemployment can mean public assistance for a family that has never struggled economically or force it to move far away, according to Ariel Kalil, a professor and developmental psy
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