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J Natl Med Assoc. 1995 Jul;87(7):473-8.

The impact of psychosocial stressors on African-American and Latino preschoolers.

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Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Particularly for children of color, one's productivity and prosperity as an adult depend to a significant degree on one's education as a child. Education is both the attainment of skills and the development of character. In the National Academy of Science's 1993 publication, Losing Generations: Adolescents in High Risk Settings, it is clear that the single common pathway to high-risk adolescent behavior is early academic failure. Coupled with the dire effects of poverty, institutional racism, and the disintegration of public school education, the fate of many African-American and Latino preschoolers may become one of functional illiteracy or worse. Project CHILD (Community Health Initiatives Against Learning Difficulties) was a pilot community program that aimed both to identify youngsters at risk of early academic failure and to obtain a profile of learning and developmental difficulties for each child. Psychoeducational and medical screenings were the primary tools used. Parental empowerment was critical to effect beneficial changes for the children within the schools. The program succeeded in its goals. However, it also was apparent that the preschoolers were adversely affected by many stressors both within and without the families. Primary child health care must become more community-based and comprehensive to offset the effects of poverty.

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