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脆弱的美国男孩们:越贫穷,越容易掉队

更新时间:2015-10-26 18:21:09 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

A Disadvantaged Start Hurts Boys More Than Girls
脆弱的美国男孩们:越贫穷,越容易掉队

Boys are falling behind. They graduate from high school and attend college at lower rates than girls and are more likely to get in trouble, which can hurt them when they enter the job market. This gender gap exists across the United States, but it is bigger for poor people and black people. As society becomes more unequal, it seems, it hurts boys more.

男孩落后了。相比女孩,男孩高中毕业和上大学的比率更低,也更容易惹上麻烦,这将不利于他们进入就业市场。全美国都出现了这种性别差异,在穷人和黑人身上更严重。现在看来,随着社会变得越来越不平等,男孩受到的伤害似乎更多。

New research from social scientists offers one explanation: Boys are more sensitive than girls to disadvantage. Any disadvantage, like growing up in poverty, in a bad neighborhood or without a father, takes more of a toll on boys than on their sisters. That realization could be a starting point for educators, parents and policymakers who are trying to figure out how to help boys — particularly those from black, Latino and immigrant families.

新的社会科学研究能为这种现象提供一个解释:男孩比女孩对不利因素更敏感。任何不利因素,如成长过程中家境贫困、生活在不良的社区、没有父亲,对男孩的影响都比对其姊妹的影响来得大。对教育人士、家长和决策者来说,这个发现能作为一个起点,有助他们找出帮助男孩(尤其是黑人、拉美和移民家庭中的男孩)的方法。

“It's something about family disadvantage itself,” said David Figlio, a Northwestern University economist and co-author of a new paper, presented publicly for the first time on Thursday. “Black people in America are more disadvantaged than white people in America, and if we were to reduce the disadvantage, we may see a reduction in the relative gender gap as well.”

“这是由于家庭本身的不利因素,”西北大学(Northwestern University)的经济学家戴维·费利奥(David Figlio)说,他是周四首次公开发表的新论文的共同作者。“在美国,黑人相比白人要处于弱势,如果我们减轻这种弱势,相对的性别差异亦可能减少。”

Marianne Bertrand, an economist at University of Chicago who with Jessica Pan has studied the gender gap, also found that boys fare worse than girls in disadvantaged homes, and are more responsive than girls to parental time and resources. “Their findings were very consistent: Families that invest more in children are protective for boys,” she said.

芝加哥大学(University of Chicago)玛丽安·伯特兰德(Marianne Bertrand)和杰西卡·潘(Jessica Pan)一起研究这种性别差异,她亦发现相比起女孩,男孩在弱势家庭中进展得较差,亦较容易受与父母的时间和资源投入的影响。“他们的研究结果与我们一致:在孩子身上作更多投资的家庭能保护好男孩,”她说。

The reasons that boys react more negatively to disadvantage are varied and hard to pinpoint. Even in utero, boys are more sensitive to extreme stress than girls, and tend to have more unruly temperaments. Society discourages boys from showing vulnerability. Low-income families are often led by single mothers, which has been found to affect boys differently than girls.

男孩对不利因素反应更负面的原因各不相同,难以准确概括。即使是在子宫内,男孩亦比女孩更容易受极端压力的影响,往往比女孩任性。社会风气不鼓励男孩向他人展示脆弱的一面。低收入家庭通常都以单身母亲为首,这样的家庭对男孩和女孩造成不同的影响。

By the time boys from poor neighborhoods start kindergarten, they are already less prepared than their sisters. The gap keeps widening: They are more likely to be suspended, skip school, perform poorly on standardized tests, drop out of high school, commit crimes as juveniles and have behavioral or learning disabilities.

到了上幼儿园的年龄时,在贫困社区生活的男孩对此所做的准备已经逊色于其姊妹。这种差异持续扩大:他们更容易面对休学、逃学、在标准化测试中表现得较差、高中辍学、青少年犯罪,亦较易有行为或学习障碍。

Boys tend to have more discipline problems than girls overall. But the difference is much bigger for black and Latino children — and more than half of the difference is because of poverty and related problems, the researchers found. For instance, while boys in well-off families have almost the same test scores as their sisters, the gap is more than three times as large in the most disadvantaged families, the study found. While well-off boys are 3.1 percentage points less likely than their sisters to be ready for kindergarten, the most disadvantaged boys are 8.5 percentage points less likely.

总体来说,男孩比女孩更容易有纪律问题。这种差异在黑人和拉美裔孩子中更大,而且研究人员发现,差异中过半数是因为贫穷及其他相关问题。例如,研究发现,富裕家庭的男孩拥有跟姊妹差不多一样的测试分数,但最弱势的家庭的男女分数差异非常大,超过了三倍。在幼儿园入学准备状态方面,富裕家庭男孩比姊妹要差3.1%,而条件最不利的男孩比姊妹差8.5%。

The pattern is clear at Astor School, a kindergarten through eighth-grade public school in a low-income part of Portland, Oregon. More than half the students are economically disadvantaged, and nearly half are minorities.

在俄勒冈州波特兰一个低收入地区,设有从幼儿园到八年级的亚斯特学校(Astor School)中便能明显地看到这一规律。该校过半数学生有经济困难,将近一半学生是少数族裔。

Girls generally enter kindergarten with skills suited to doing well in school, like sitting still and using a pencil, while many boys act younger, having trouble listening to adults and controlling their impulses, said Jeff Knoblich, the school counselor.

学校辅导员杰夫·克诺布里希(Jeff Knoblich)指,在进幼儿园时,女孩通常已有在学校表现好所需的技能,如安静坐着和使用铅笔,而多数男孩则表现得较幼稚,在聆听成人说话和抑制冲动方面有问题。

“Boys get a message from a very young age to be a man, and to be a man means you're strong and you don't cry and you don't show your emotions,” he said. “I see boys suffering because of that, and a lot of that comes out in aggressive behaviors.”

“男孩年纪小小就开始接收到要做个男子汉的讯息,而做个男子汉意味着你要强大,你不能哭,你不能表达自己的情绪,”他说。“我看到过很多男孩为此感到痛苦,很多这种痛苦以好斗行为的形式表现了出来。”

Problems in elementary school have long-term effects. Early suspensions are strongly correlated with not graduating from high school. The modern economy relies on skills like cooperation, empathy and resilience — and many boys are entering the workforce poorly equipped to compete.

小学阶段的问题有长远的影响。早期休学跟高中辍学间有密切关系。现代经济十分依赖合作、同理心和应变能力等技能。然而,在进入劳动市场时,许多男孩都未有装备好这些技能去跟别人竞争。

The researchers — who also included David Autor and Melanie Wasserman of MIT, Krzysztof Karbownik of Northwestern and Jeffrey Roth of the University of Florida — examined various reasons boys could be falling behind. By analyzing brothers and sisters in about 150,000 households using databases from the health and education departments in Florida, they could control for differences in families.

研究人员——包括麻省理工学院的戴维·奧特(David Autor)和梅兰妮·瓦瑟曼(Melanie Wasserman)、美国西北大学的克日什托夫·卡波夫尼克(Krzysztof Karbownik)和佛罗里达大学的杰弗里·罗斯(Jeffrey Roth )——检查了各种会导致男孩落后的原因。通过分析约15万个家庭中兄弟姐妹的数据,他们可以对比在不同家庭之间的差异。数据由佛罗里达州卫生和教育部门提供。

They concluded that boys aren't born this way. Babies of low-income mothers are less healthy, but the boys are not worse off than the girls.

他们的结论是,男孩不是一出生就这样的。低收入母亲的婴儿都不太健康,但男孩并不差于女孩。

Though disadvantaged children are likelier to be in underperforming schools or neighborhoods with drugs and violence, this alone does not explain the gender gap, the researchers said. Even in the same neighborhood and schools and for children of the same race, the gender gap is wider in less-advantaged families.

研究人员说,虽然弱势儿童更有可能入读或住在表现不佳的学校或充斥着毒品和暴力的社区,但仅此并不能解释性别差异。即使在同一社区、学校和同种族的儿童,弱势家庭的性别差距也更大。

“Boys particularly seem to benefit more from being in a married household or committed household — with the time, attention and income that brings,” Autor said.

“已婚或关系稳固的家庭,对男孩似乎格外有助益——这类家庭有更多时间、关注和收入,”奧特说。

The researchers compared families based on whether the parents were single or coupled, the education level of the mother, income of the neighborhood and quality of the school. They said they could not isolate which variable mattered most, probably because they are all intertwined.

研究人员根据父母是否单亲或已婚、母亲的教育水平、社区的收入和学校的质量来比较家庭。他们说无法找出哪个变量才是最重要的,可能因为它们都交织在一起。

But they said there were clues to why boys are extra sensitive to disadvantage. A big one is that impoverished households are more likely to be led by single mothers, and boys suffer from a lack of male role models.

但他们说,有些迹象能说明男生对不利因素格外敏感的原因。其中一个主要原因是贫困家庭更可能只有单身母亲,而男孩就缺乏了男性榜样。

Mothers, especially single mothers, tend to spend more time with daughters than sons. Boys, meanwhile, might need more oversight and discipline to learn things like controlling their emotions and focusing on school.

母亲,尤其是单身母亲,在女儿与儿子之间,往往花费更多时间与女儿相处。与此同时,男孩却可能需要更多的监督和纪律去学习控制情绪、注重学业等东西。

For policymakers, Figlio said, the study's results show disadvantage should be taken into account when devising ways to help boys, and gender should be considered when helping poor children, since boys and girls seem to respond differently.

费利奥说,对于决策者来讲,这项研究的结果表明,想办法帮助孩子们时应该考虑到弱势家庭;而帮助贫困儿童应该考虑到他们的性别,这是因为男孩和女孩似乎有不同的反应。

For educators, research points to the importance for boys of early interventions, like high-quality preschool and mentoring.

对于教育工作者来讲,研究指出如高品质的学前教育和辅导等早期干预对孩子学习的重要性。

For parents, the data shows the payoffs of spending more time with children, especially boys, Bertrand said. For single parents, supporting their families on one income, that might be easier said than done.

对于家长来讲,伯特兰德表示,数据显示花更多时间与孩子相处会有正面回报,尤其是男孩。而对于单亲家庭来讲,要靠一份收入支持家庭,这谈何容易。

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