New Report Explains Why More Children Suffering Emotional, Behavioral Problems

New Report Explains Why More Children Suffering Emotional, Behavioral Problems

University report, for release Tuesday at Capitol Hill symposium, describes nurturing environments that strengthen brain development, reduce risk behaviors


WASHINGTON, D.C.–(HISPANIC PR WIRE – U.S. Newswire)–September 9, 2003–A new report, “Hardwired to Connect: The Scientific Case for Authoritative Communities,” released here today by the Commission on Children at Risk, documents a “crisis of American childhood” – “high and rising rates of depression, anxiety, attention deficit, conduct disorders, suicidal thoughts and other serious mental, emotional, and behavioral problems” – and proposes a fundamental “social change model” for addressing the crisis, including basic shifts in U.S. public policy.

The report, by researchers at the nation’s leading universities including Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth and Columbia, stresses that networks of enduring, nurturing relationships significantly strengthen brain development, diminishing the likelihood of aggression, depression and substance abuse. Identified in this report as “authoritative communities,” these networks, YMCAs among them, have long been thought to help children thrive. Scientific support for this hypothesis is now indisputable.

“We are pleased that this report asserts what YMCAs have understood for 152 years,” said

Ken Gladish, Ph.D., National Executive Director, YMCA of the USA, “that surrounding kids with a richly nurturing environment is critical for their healthy physical, emotional, moral and spiritual development.” YMCA of the USA is the national resource office for America’s 2,540 YMCAs.

Key findings

— Nurturing environments can change the impact of risk-taking genes, as well as the physiological development and functioning of the brain.

— Animal studies show that strong nurturing can eliminate the harmful effects of genes that tend to cause aggression, anxiety, depression or substance abuse.

— The new research makes clear that nurture has a measurable impact on nature.

“Hardwired to Connect” was sponsored jointly by YMCA of the USA, Dartmouth Medical School and the Institute for American Values, a New York-based think tank exploring youth and family issues. These organizations and representatives from 29 leading universities, commissioned the report. It will be formally presented September 9, at a symposium in the Dirksen Senate Office Building-G50 on Capitol Hill. Ken Gladish, U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona and Dr. Wade Horn, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Families and Children, are featured speakers.

“It is extremely gratifying that preeminent scholarship supports the notion that nurture has a measurable, scientific impact on nature,” said David Blankenhorn, President, Institute for American Values.

How these findings will help communities

“Our hope is that this report serves as a catalyst for bringing together non-profit, government, foundation and corporate leaders to develop, fund and coordinate more youth services that provide early, continuing nurture, to keep children healthy and whole,” Gladish said. “Currently, many strategies and programs are only available to children already in crisis.”

Collectively,America’s 2,540 YMCAs are the nation’s largest not-for-profit, community service organization and largest providers of child care. They serve 18.9 million people of all faiths, races, ages, abilities and incomes— including 9.3 million children — through a broad range of youth and family-strengthening programs. Financial assistance is available. Visit

Editors: For interviews with Ken Gladish, David Blankenhorn, or principal Dartmouth researcher Kathleen Kovner Kline, for Spanish language interviews or full report, contact:

— Julie Mulzoff; 202-835-9043;

— Erin Streeter; 202-669-0185;

— Arnold Collins; 312-419-8418;



Julie Mulzoff



Erin Streeter



Arnold Collins


New Report Explains Why More Children Suffering Emotional, Behavioral Problems