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Emotional Girls, Bad Boys: Study Shows how Gender Distinguishes Typical Problems Hounding the Youth

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A new study revealed that girls were more likely to have emotional problems, while boys were more likely to have behavioral problems. The study was conducted by researchers at the University College London. 

The researchers at the Evidence-Based Practice Unit at UCL and the Anna Freud National Center for Children and Families conducted the first survey that involved more than 30,000 boys and girls, with ages between 11 and 14. They found that 25 percent of girls experienced more emotional problems compared to 11 percent of boys. The first survey also found that at least one out of five children and young people reported experiences of emotional problems, which was also the same in behavioral problems. 

While girls were more vulnerable to emotional problems, about 23 percent of boys were more likely to experience behavioral problems compared to 15 percent of girls. Most young people were likely to report mental health issues at Year 9, with most of these coming from the White ethnic group. Young people from other ethnic groups, such as Asian, Black, and Mixed were less prone to report emotional problems. 

An important revelation, meanwhile, was revealed by the survey, and it showed that young people with special educational needs were more likely to experience both emotional and behavioral problems. These young people were eligible for free meals and were classified as children in need due to unfavorable financial capacity. The researchers concluded that there's a strong connection between deprivation and mental health problems. 

Mental health problems are similar to physical health problems but are more related to thinking, feeling, and reacting. Problems in mental health range from the common ones like anxiety and depression to severe ones like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. 

1. Anxiety: It pertains to feelings of worry, tense or fear. Anxious people usually tend to think too much about things that might happen in the future. 

2. Depression: It pertains to the feelings of sadness, guilt or hopelessness. Depressed people usually experience low self-esteem, lack of sleep, appetite loss, and unproductiveness. 

3. Phobia: Phobia is an extreme version of fear that causes severe anxiety or panic. Some people develop phobia they never had before from traumatic events in their lives. The trigger may be a location or an object. Phobia can affect the person's quality of life. 

4. Eating disorders: People experiencing mental health problems may also be suffering from eating disorders. Anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating are examples of eating disorders that serve as the escape route for those who could not cope with their emotional pain. 

5. Bipolar disorder: It is a disorder related to the rapid shift of moods. Bipolars can shift from being aggressive or manic to depressive in a blink of an eye. Mood swings also vary from person to person. 

6. Schizophrenia: It is a disorder characterized by delusions or hallucinations, disorganized speech and thinking, lack of concentration, social avoidance, and lack of interest in most things. 

According to Child Mind Institute, boys and girls can experience anxiety and depression. But in teenage years, it is more common in girls than boys. The discrepancy between the genders may be associated with the faster maturity of girls in puberty. A more mature emotional recognition leads to high sensitivity to emotions, which makes girls more vulnerable to anxiety and depression. 

The Victoria State Government reported that boys are more likely to suffer from behavioral disorders. The cases of oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder were more prominent in boys, outnumbering girls with up to a four to one ratio. 

- The oppositional defiant disorder is behavior characterized by frequent tantrums, the tendency to be easily angered or annoyed, arguing a lot with adults, constantly disobeying rules, and blaming others for any mistakes or misfortunes. 

- Conduct disorder is related to defiance and delinquency. Children with this behavior often disobey parents or authority figures; are likely to engage in drugs, alcohol, and smoking; lack empathy towards others; lie frequently; and are usually involved in physical fights. 

- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is described as inattention or having difficulty to focus or concentrate, impulsivity or tendency to act on a whim, and overactivity or restlessness and fidgeting. 

The young people who participated in the survey and completed an online questionnaire developed by UCL and the Anna Freud Center were from Headstart Schools. Those who are in Year 7 will repeat the survey every year until Year 11. The data will be collected from people in Year 9 every year as well. 

"There is so much rich data in this survey which can help us understand and respond to the mental health needs of children and young people. The most powerful findings from this research are that mental health problems amongst children and young people now appear to be at a worrying rate and that there is a strong and consistent association between deprivation and mental health problems," said Dr. Jess Deighton, the deputy director of the Anna Freud Center and the lead researcher of the survey. 

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