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In Case You Missed It – April 24, 2015

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Welcome to In Case You Missed It, a weekly roundup of news articles related to issues of psychology, health and mental health, social justice and the public interest that you may be interested in.

We collate these articles from multiple news and commentary websites.

This week we look at stories covering new research on mixed-income housing, the debate over parenting by same-sex couples, the disappearance of 1.5 million African American men from daily life between ages 25 and 54 and more.

Make sure to also check out these APA publications:

Monitor on Psychology – our monthly magazine

APA Access – our monthly member newsletter and

In the Public Interest – the Public Interest Directorate’s monthly newsletter.

Mixed-income housing, where low and high income families live next to each other, is supposed to offer advantage and opportunity to the lower income children. Does it work?  A recent article in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry raises questions.  Odgers et al. (2015) studied 1,600 children in England and Wales and found that boys (though not girls) from lower income families who lived near affluent families had higher levels of antisocial behavior than boys growing up in concentrated poverty. University of Texas sociologist Robert Crosnoe found that low income children who went to school with middle- and higher income children did worse in math and science and had more mental health problems.  Why isn’t clear, but it may be that close proximity increases discrimination and unfavorable comparisons by higher income neighbors. For more info, check out our fact sheet on the impact of socioeconomic status on children, youth and families.

The national debate over same-sex marriage seems to return over and over to one question: Who should raise children? The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments regarding same-sex marriage next Tuesday. Dozens of amicus briefs submitted to the court cite varying research on the subject. Some studies show that children raised in same-sex households fare no worse than those raised by mothers and fathers. Others say the differences are stark in areas ranging from emotional development to high school graduation rates and success at work. The American Psychological Association’s brief points to studies such as one using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which found no differences in psychological adjustment, educational outcomes, substance abuse and delinquency between the children of lesbian and heterosexual couples. For more on this issue, check out our Lesbian and Gay Parenting resource.

1.5 million missing Black men – The New York Times

For every 100 black women not in jail (ages 25-54), there are only 83 black men. More than one out of every six black men who today should be between 25 and 54 years old – 1.5 million of them – are, in a sense, missing. Why this disparity? According to this article’s analysis, early deaths and incarceration are the main factors. Higher imprisonment rates account for almost 600,000. Almost 1 in 12 black men in this age group are behind bars, compared with 1 in 60 nonblack men in the age group, 1 in 200 black women and 1 in 500 nonblack women. Higher mortality is the other main cause. About 900,000 fewer prime-age black men than women live in the United States, according to the census. It’s impossible to know precisely how much of the difference is the result of mortality, but it appears to account for a big part. Homicide is the leading cause of death for young African-American men, and they also die from heart disease, respiratory disease and accidents more often than other demographic groups, including black women.

A new report states that legal discrimination, lack of family recognition, and lack of safe educational environments put LGBT people of color at risk of lifelong poverty. Paying an Unfair Price: The Financial Penalty for LGBT People of Color compared the economic insecurity that LGBT people of color experience compared to white LGBT people and non-LGBT people of color. They found that LGBT people of color face discrimination in employment, housing, health care, and other aspects of their lives. Also, they are more likely to be raising children than white LGBT people, often in states without marriage equality or legal recognition of parenting ties, the report notes. And young LGBT people of color frequently encounter bullying or harassment in school, making it harder for them to obtain the type of education that can lead to better economic opportunities.

On Wednesday, a jury in Iowa found a 78-year-old man not guilty of raping his wife, who had Alzheimer’s disease. Henry Rayhons’ wife lived in a nursing home and he had been told by the staff there that because of her dementia, she was no longer capable of consenting to sex. He was charged with sexual assault for allegedly having sex with her after that. Sexual relationships in long-term care facilities are not uncommon. But the long-term care industry is still grappling with the issue. In an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered on the topic of whether patients with dementia can consent to sex, Patricia Bach, a geriatric psychologist, discussed the results of her survey of members of the American Medical Directors Association, which represents physicians who work in long-term care facilities. Bach found that “only 25 to 30 percent actually had formal training in the area of intimacy and sexuality, as it would pertain to older adults. Thirty percent had no training at all.” The survey also found that only about 30 percent of nursing homes where the respondents worked had formal policies. The ABA/APA co-authored Assessment of Older Adults with Diminished Capacity: A Handbook for Psychologists includes a chapter on assessing the sexual consent capacity of older clients.

What do you think of these stories? Did we leave anything out?

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