School failure harder on girls than boys: U.S. study

Teen girls are seen in a file photo. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Academic failure appears to trouble teen-age girls more deeply than boys, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.

They said adolescent girls who are expelled, suspended or drop out of high school before they graduate are more likely to have a serious bout of depression by age 21 than boys with similar experiences.

“For girls there are broader implications of school failure,” said Carolyn McCarty, a University of Washington researcher whose study appears in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

“We already know that it leads to more poverty, higher rates of being on public assistance and lower rates of job stability. And now this study shows it is having mental health implications for girls,” McCarty said in a statement.

The study was drawn from data on more than 800 people in Seattle, Washington, and included people from 18 schools in high-crime neighborhoods.

The group was split evenly by gender and nearly half were white, 24 percent were black, 21 percent were Asian-American and the rest were from other groups.

Overall, 45 percent of the girls and 68 percent of the boys in the study experienced a major school failure, but 22 percent of the girls later became depressed compared with 17 percent for the boys.

“This gender paradox shows that while school failure is more atypical for girls, it appears to have more severe consequences when it does occur,” McCarty said.

Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen, editing by Will Dunham and Cynthia Osterman