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More About the Relationship between Blacks and Their Government in Baltimore

Baltimore, crime, family structure, intact family, race, violence No comments

By Henry Potrykus

In this blog, we recently announced the release of a MARRI overview on “Violence in Baltimore.”  In one part of the overview, we focused-in on black children in Baltimore.  I produced some statistics on the family life and poverty situation these children find themselves in. This post goes into further explanatory detail on that situation.

As background let’s quote from the report:

The city of Baltimore has just under 4,000 white 15- to 17-year olds.  Just over half— nearly 2,000— have seen the break-up of their family of origin.* This is in line with the national experience.

The experience of black Baltimore teens on the cusp of adulthood is different.  Over 15,000 have seen the break-up of their biological parents.  But only 1,500 black 15- to 17-year-old residents of Baltimore have not experienced that act of rejection.  So, for every one black teen of Baltimore who does not experience family rejection, there are ten who do.  More than 90 percent of black Baltimore teens on the cusp of adulthood witness parental rejection. 

Poverty in Baltimore is strongly influenced by this gaping calamity.  The influence of family intactness (for children of any age; see “The Fifth Annual Index of Belonging and Rejection”) on the probability of a child (0- to 17-years old) being poor dwarfs the influence of race.

The influence of parental rejection is also greater than that of living only with parents who have dropped out of high school.  The “adjusted mean” level of child poverty in Baltimore is about 29 percent.** Being black raises this rate of poverty by almost 9 percent.  Living in a household only with parents who have dropped out of high school further raises this number by around 13 percent.  Living in a home where no parent has rejected the other lowers this rate of poverty by better than 15 percent, more than half the baseline rate of childhood poverty in the city.

Further Findings

Now, simple accumulation of the baseline, racial, and family relative risks of poverty, shows that family intactness brings childhood poverty among blacks in the city effectively down to the national level (around 22%).  (29 % + 9% – 15% yields less than 23%.)

In fact, the complete (technical) result is even stronger than this.  Intactness cuts poverty by more than half among black children in Baltimore.  (There is a 15 percent residual poverty rate for black children who live in their family of origin, which is below the average for the nation’s children as a whole.)***

Unsurprisingly for Baltimore, then, food stamp (SNAP) dependency and public healthcare (e.g., Medicaid) dependency are more strongly influenced by intactness than they are by the race a child is born into or by parents’ high school completion.

Regarding food stamp dependency: Family intactness shows itself to be more important than either race, or if parents have dropped out of high school. The “adjusted mean” rate of food stamp receipt in Baltimore is an impressive 42 percent for children. Living in a home where no parent has rejected the other lowers this rate of dependency by almost 17 percent.  Black children have a higher recipiency rate by almost 16 percent.  Statistically, then, intact families alleviate the need for Baltimore anti-hunger campaigns targeting minority children.  Living in a household only with parents who have dropped out of high school raises this dependency rate by almost 9 percent.

For public healthcare dependency (in the years 2008 through 2013), intactness is also more important than either race, or if parents have dropped out of high school. The “adjusted mean” rate of public healthcare enrollment in Baltimore is a yet more impressive 61 percent for children. Living in a home where no parent has rejected the other lowers this rate again by around 17 percent.  Black children have a higher enrollment rate by almost 11 percent.  Living in a household only with parents who have dropped out of high school raises the enrollment rate also by almost 9 percent.

These additional empirical facts make it plain: The major factor influencing the (difficult) condition that black children and teens on the cusp of adulthood find themselves in in Baltimore is the lack of family intactness.  This finding becomes plain by testing one influencing factor against the other – family intactness against education, intactness and education against race–as is reported on here. 

Does poverty or a lack of economic opportunity cause violence?  Perhaps dispossessed persons are more likely to riot.  Economics would certainly say that in the absence of strict-enough penalties the dispossessed are more likely to break things they don’t have an ownership interest in.  Want to fight black poverty or dispossession in Baltimore?  There’s an obvious place to start: The intact family unit.

Endnotes:

*Population counts, taken from the American Community Survey 2008-2013, are known to a precision of about +/- 200 kids.  There are 137,400 children (of any age) found in Baltimore.

**This mean is adjusted for race (i.e., if one is non-white), parents not being high-school graduates, and the intactness of a child’s family of origin.  The adjustment is computed by an ordinary least squares regression on sampled Baltimore children (N 6440; R^2 0.14). Only significant factors (p < 0.05) shall be reported for any regression.  I also tested models with controls for parental age.  The results are pretty much the same for race and family intactness’ influences (i.e. – to statistical uncertainty:  the influences reduce in magnitude by about 1.5 percent). There are fundamental, sociological reasons why these two factors behave this way; reasons I eschew elaborating on in this post.

***Intactness also nullifies most of the negative influences of having only parents who have dropped out of high school. (There is a 5 percent residual [pejorative] influence of parental education among black childhood poverty.  Intactness better than completely compensates for the influence of low parental education attainment among whites:  There is a 4 percent net reduction in poverty off the baseline when intactness is faced off against low education attainment among white parents.)

This is the result of the saturated model for the adjustment factors of the foregoing endnote (“mean adjustment computation”).

Electric Zoo, Family Structure, and Substance Abuse

crime, family, intact family, religion, youth No comments


By MARRI Intern
A week and half before their Labor Day music festival, Electric Zoo posted a notice on their blog encouraging their participant “party animals” to “keep the positive party vibes flowing by looking out for each other.” The post advised against illegal drug use but also outlined common signs of drug abuse and included a map of where to find on-site medical facilities. While many attendees may have followed this recommendation and enjoyed their weekend, a few attendees did not. Electric Zoo was forced to cancelthe third and final day of the event due to two tragic overdoses and a number of hospitalized attendees on the first two days.
Fueling the public’s negative reaction to the Labor Day fatalities is the professional history of the Electric Zoo’s founder. One of the founder’s partner clubs in Chelsea, Twilo, was shut down in 2001 following two fatal MDMA overdoses. The fact that both deaths at this year’s Electric Zoo were also reported as MDMA overdoses has certainly made this tragedy a bitter pill to swallow. But where do we draw the line? Can we put all the responsibility on the clubs which organized and repeatedly turned a blind eye to illegal substance abuse? Surely, we cannot ignore the freedom of choice exercised by club and party attendees to partake in the use of illegal substances.
Who is to blame? Society, the clubs, the victims, their parents? The breakdown of the intact married family has many far-reaching effects, including an increased propensity to engage in wrong and damaging behavior, such as illegal drug use. Recent trends indicate that most twelfth graders believe that the availability of, and access to drugs has become easier and easier. And while we all know that drug abusers can come from every background, MARRI Research indicates that children of divorce have a significantly increased risk of crime, as well as drug use. Additionally, research has shown that the more youth who worship weekly exhibit the least hard drug use.
So perhaps at the end of the day, we are left only with the tasks of mourning the precious lives lost and of determinedly perpetuating a culture of intact families who worship weekly, engender healthy values, and raise children who choose not to turn to substance abuse.

Marriage: A Solution to Child Poverty

crime, divorce, marriage, poverty 1 comment
Maria Reig Teetor, Intern
As a psychology major, I am fascinated by studies that relate family structure to different mental health problems. One study on child poverty demonstrates that children who grow up in poor families are more likely to develop depression and personality disorders. Poor children are exposed to a wide range of risk factors that affect their social and emotional development. The environment they grow up in is surrounded by drug abuse, inadequate nutrition, crime, parental instability, divorce, maternal depression….I could go on and on.
In 2010 43% of children lived in “low-income” families, which translates to 43% of children living in poverty conditions. These factors are known to decrease cognitive stimulation, which consequently affects their education; they have higher probability to skip school and fail classes and eventually drop out of high school. 
This environment also causes the children to externalize their emotional turmoil with behavior outbursts such as delinquency or drug and sexual abuse. Because this is the environment in which these children grow up, learning such behaviors from mothers, fathers and peers, it becomes their normal lifestyle. In short, poverty affects children and has grave consequences. But should we blame the economic meltdown or the government for this social crisis? Or can we do something about it? Can we help these children finish high school and prevent them from ending up in prison or as cocaine addicts? Can we prevent girls from being abused and emotionally unstable? Can we show them that their life-style is not the only one?
It’s a lot to ask, but I know we must try.
Research demonstrates that children who grow up in the stable environment provided by natural marriage are more likely to develop emotional stability and grow up sure of themselves and of their own identity. This is a strong indicator of success in their education, as they feel safe, loved and respected in their own home. 
But how does this apply to our poverty problem? Well, marriage is the strongest anti-poverty weapon. Why? As fathers or mothers disappear, poverty increases and both child and parent suffer. A study done by the Heritage Foundation  shows 31.7% of children who are in poverty conditions come from single-parent, female-headed families, while only 6.8% come from married, two-parent families.
I deeply admire the mothers and fathers who decide to raise their children on their own. It takes courage and generosity. But we should work toward helping families stay together. We should provide information that will help people form and maintain healthy relationships, teaching adolescents to delay childbearing until there is a strong commitment, because of its benefits for their own future and for their children’s future.
This way we can address two problems at once: poverty and emotional instability. Both are less common in children who grow up in homes where the parents are married and work to grow in unity through their marriage.

Married Men: The Newest MVPs

crime, marriage No comments
MARRI Interns
Yes, perhaps that hulking linebacker can run 40 yards like a cheetah, and yes, perhaps the dexterity and agility of that wide receiver might make a hummingbird hang its head in embarrassed remorse, but the owners of the Jacksonville Jaguars want more important and substantive information about the free agents they scout for positions on their team: “Do they help with the dishes?” The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the new plan of considering free agents’ marriages at signing time is the brainchild of the Jaguars’ new owner, Shadid Khan (the expansiveness of whose vision for the team is rivaled only by the expansiveness of his imposing moustache) who “figured some of the things needed to be a solid player – like staying after practice or putting in extra work – require a stable home environment.”
So the Jaguars are interested in players who are dedicated, mature, responsible, and less likely to be filmed running away from a police car in the middle of the night, not simply more boring denizens of the boring locale of Jacksonville (as some confused and contrarian commentators have cynically said).  Yet it must be admitted that since no real studies have ever been done to prove whether married athletes actually do perform better than single players on the ball field, this new tactic is a gambit.  Nevertheless, if NFL athletes are at all like other employees (or indeed, like other men), then the gambit may actually pay off.  The wealth of marriage literatureshows that married men work longer hours, demonstrate more responsible behavior, earn more wages, and are significantly less likely to commit crime or abuse illegal substances than are single men.  Therefore don’t be surprised if you begin to see more wedding rings and super bowl rings on the same hands.

Does Family Structure Make a Difference?

crime, divorce, education, family, poverty 1 comment

MARRI Interns

What is Marriage? Many arguments are proffered as to why traditional marriage (between a man and a woman) needs to be defended. In the end, all arguments come down to the question, what is marriage and does marriage matter? Do intact marriages have any different positive benefits for those involved, whether it is the individuals in the relationship or the children? The Marriage and Religion Research Institute seeks to answer these questions by using the social sciences to show that there is clearly a difference between intact marriages and non-intact marriages.

There is overwhelming evidence supporting the numerous benefits that an intact married family provides. In terms of educational achievement, children who grow up in an intact family on average receive a 2.9 GPA as opposed to a 2.6 GPA for children living with a step-parent (See “Effects of Divorce”). Family background also has a significant impact on whether or not a child is ever expelled or suspended. According to the Adolescent Health Survey, 20.3% of children who grow up in an intact family have ever been expelled or suspended, compared to over 50% of children who grown up with parents who are never married (See “Watchmen on the Wall”).

Family background also plays a significant role in whether or not a child commits a crime. 
According to the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 5% of children who live in an intact family have ever been arrested, compared to 13% of children who live in a cohabiting family.

Finally, marriage status influences family income. According to the Survey of Consumer Finance, intact families with children under 18 were on average worth $120,250, compared to divorced individuals with children under 18 who were only worth $27,800 (See “Child’s Right to Marriage of Parents”). Furthermore, 67% of children living with never married parents live in poverty compared to only 12% of children in intact families (See “Child’s Right to Marriage of Parents”).

The statistics here are only a small portion of the social science that MARRI has researched on the importance of a healthy family. In this culture of individualism that has been built in our nation, it is often forgotten that the family is what all societies are built upon and healthy families are what enable societies to last.

To Rebuild Society, We Should Rethink our Foundation

crime, culture, family, news, Pat Fagan, social institutions, youth 1 comment
By Julia Polese, Intern
On February 13th, New York Times columnist David Brooks examined the current trends in sociological study that have displaced economic and cultural determinism as the primary explanation for the weakening of the American social fabric. He explains that regardless of the origin of social disorganization – job loss, government growth, or abandonment of traditional norms – it continues through the generations. Disruption causes more disruption and weakening social fabric within certain communities can be tied not primarily to sweeping moral decay or the recession, but to sociological factors on as small a scale as a child’s attachment to his parents. “It’s not enough just to have economic growth policies,” he writes. “The country also needs to rebuild orderly communities.”
 
This trend points to a third route between the extremes of building the Great Society and subsidizing atomization. Sociological studies in the past several decades regarding crime and reasons for delinquent behavior have largely drawn from Social Control Theory, outlined by Travis Hirschi in 1969. In his seminal work, Causes of Delinquency, Hirschi broke with the preceding scholarly consensus by claiming that both delinquents and those who have not committed crimes share the same disposition to delinquency, but what differentiates them are their social bonds and relation to conventional society that constrain their baser passions. The sociologist named attachment, commitment, involvement, and belief as four essential aspects of a person’s development. Deficiency in one or more of these values can weaken one’s social bonds and, as many subsequent studies drawing from Hirschi’s theory have shown, lead to delinquent behavior. The key to social disruption is breakdown in relationships.
Brooks writes that in order to “rebuild orderly communities,” orderly people need to be cultivated. While the columnist proposes sometimes using the government to build “organizations and structures that induce people to behave responsibly,” these structures do not have to be created by tax codes and mandates to provide individual incentives to behave. Rather, the family structure can provide such an incubator for responsible citizenship. As the fundamental “orderly community” and basis of civil society, the family shapes a child’s belief in the norms around him, his attachment to others, and involvement in and commitment to the community.
 
“Social repair requires sociological thinking,” says Brooks, and the sociological data consistently has revealed the significant role the intact family can have in reweaving the disintegrating social fabric. However, sociological thinking must be done within the correct paradigm. Patrick Fagan, director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute, states that “Sociology done well cannot but reflect the way God made man.” A correct anthropology in light of our state as fallen creatures must inform attempts at “social repair.” Sociology is reflective, but cannot be fundamentally reparative. Repair begins with grace from outside us that constrains our passions and reorders our will to what is good. The family is one means of such grace, and the data cannot help but reflect the goodness of this first structure.

Unnatural Selection, Part II: A Review

abortion, Asia, crime, economics, family, marriage, men, monogamy, polygamy, pro-life, world population No comments
By MARRI Interns
Mara Hvistendahl’s latest book, Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men, is a riveting book full of anecdotes that are simultaneously heartbreaking and revelatory of our global opinions toward the value of life, marriage, and women. From the anti-romance of the East China Sea economy of wife trafficking, wherein Asian airports are the inauspicious meeting places of future loving couples, to the yuppie dream of Southern California fertility clinics, wherein a woman can be artificially impregnated during her lunch hour, to the unnervingly nonchalant disposal of aborted fetuses in India, the anecdotes shared in Unnatural Selection reveal a global confusion about the value of baby girls.

Yet, this tome is not the product of an opponent of abortion. Hvistendahl herself admits in the preface that she endorses abortion even though “the finer points of the abortion debate elude me.” She then resorts to this redoubt of agnosticism in order to withhold her judgment on a practice whose ramifications she lambasts on every page: “Since I refuse to venture a guess at when life begins, this is not a book about death and killing… but about the potential for life—and denying that potential to the very group responsible for perpetuating our beleaguered species.”

With this preface, thus begins Hvistendahl’s 300-page endeavor to elucidate the defining demographic dynamic of our day—the global paucity of women and its attendant social disturbances. She primarily investigates the effects of this demographic inequality in Asia, where the social sciences display unanimously pernicious effects of the lack of women, including a rise in violent crime. Studies across China show “a clear link between a large share of males and unlawfulness, concluding a mere 1 percent increase in sex ratio at birth resulted in a five to six point increase in an area’s crime rate.” Nor are these trends confined only to China: “The best way to predict whether a certain part of India has a high murder rate, indeed, is to look at its sex ratio.” Bachelors report generally lower standards of living than married men, culminating in poorer physical and mental health, and a shorter lifespan. 

By increasing the rate of crime, the sex selection bias against women thus creates a social dynamic similar to that of a society in which the number of available women is depleted by polygamy. In “The Puzzle of Monogamous Marriage,” a recent articlepublished in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of Biological Sciences, Joseph Henrich and colleagues use an elementary economic model to explain the rise of monogamous marriage as a social dynamic designed to foment a number of beneficial social dynamics, including “reduc[ing] the size of the pool of unmarried men.” In economic terms, both polygamy (when more than one woman enters a marriage relationship with one man) and sex selection against females creates a deficit of women in the pool of available marriage partners. Elementary economic theory dictates that the “price” of wives will then increase concomitantly with the increase in competition for them. This competition will squeeze lower-class males out of the marriage market since they have neither the financial resources nor the social standing to attract women. Consequently, the less affluent and socially inferior men are left without brides. This is doubly pernicious since it is exactly that class of men that is most likely to commit crimes, and “across all crimes, marriage reduces a man’s likelihood of committing a crime by 35%.”

Furthermore, Henrich et al. postulate that this paucity of women will be equally deleterious toward the women themselves: “the reduced supply of unmarried women, who are absorbed into polygamous marriages, causes men of all ages to pursue younger and younger women.”

Nicholas Eberstadt of The New Atlantis elaborateseven further upon the negative social effects of a sex selection-induced decline of women and applies them globally to say that “sex-selective abortion is by now so widespread and so frequent that it has come to distort the population composition of the entire human species.” Thus the pernicious trends identified in Hvistendahl’s book as sweeping the Asian subcontinent presents serious hazards for the future of the entirety of mankind. If the international demographic data is to be believed at all, one must confess that all is not well with the global practice of abortion.

Dr. Henry Potrykus, Senior Fellow at the Marriage and Religion Research Institute, has also done work on demographics and the future of the West illustrating not only the effects of abortion or sex-selective abortion, but the decline in women’s fertility in general. He finds that “[t]he peoples of the West are self-depleting because of the adoption of extra-marital sexual norms coupled with a rejection of fertility: Negative trends in the openness to marriage and the openness to children drive an exponential decrease in the generations to come in Europe.”

To address this decline in fertility, Potrykus suggests that society must re-adopt stable marriage between a man and a woman as a societal norm. Governments and cultures must reject the non-sustainable model of society that is devoid of religion but open to polymorphous sexuality and serial polygamy. Placing religion and family at the center of a culture is the only way to make it thrive.

162 Reasons to Marry

child well-being, cohabitation, crime, divorce, domestic violence, education, family, MARRI, marriage, men's health, poverty, religion, women's health No comments
By Anna Dorminey, Staff
We are excited to present 162 Reasons to Marry, a (by no means comprehensive) list of the benefits and reasons for marriage.

Good marriages are the bedrock of strong societies. All other relationships in society stem from the father-mother relationship, and these other relationships thrive most if that father-mother relationship is an intimate, closed husband-wife relationship. Our nation depends on good marriages to yield strong revenues, good health, low crime, high education, and high human capital

Here are a few selections from “162 Reasons to Marry”:

4. Those from an intact family are more likely to be happily married.

6. Those from intact families are less likely to divorce. 

27. Married men and women report the most sexual pleasure and fulfillment. 

33. Adults who grew up in an intact married family are more likely than adults from non-intact family structures to attend religious services at least monthly. 

37. Children of married parents are more engaged in school than children from all other family structures.

48. Adolescents from intact married families are less like to be suspended, expelled, or delinquent, or to experience school problems than children from other family structures. 

69. The married family is less likely to be poor than any other family structure. 

79. Married men are less likely to commit crimes. 

93. Married women are less likely to be abused by their husband than cohabiting women are to be abused by their partner.

99. Children in intact married families suffer less child abuse than children from any other family structure.

104. Married people are more likely to report better health, a difference that holds for the poor and for minorities.

119. Married men and women have higher survival rates after being diagnosed with cancer.  

126. Married people have lower mortality rates, including lower risk of death from accidents, disease, and self-inflicted injuries.

132. Married women have significantly fewer abortions than unmarried women. 

149. Married people are least likely to commit suicide.

We’ve found 162 reasons to marry — what can you add to the list?

What’s So Wrong with Polygamy?

child well-being, children, crime, culture, family, fathers, human capital, marriage, monogamy, news, polygamy, social institutions, women No comments

By Anna Dorminey, Staff

Libby Copeland writes for Slate on the effects of polygamy and monogamous marriage on crime in “Is Polygamy Really So Awful?” While we disagree with Ms. Copeland’s conclusion (that the best form of union for a society is best not because it is moral, but because it “works”), the research she references in her piece is extremely interesting. Read along:

History suggests that [plural marriage] is [harmful]. A new study out of the University of British Columbia documents how societies have systematically evolved away from polygamy because of the social problems it causes. The Canadian researchers are really talking about polygyny, which is the term for one man with multiple wives, and which is by far the most common expression of polygamy. Women are usually thought of as the primary victims of polygynous marriages, but as cultural anthropologist Joe Henrich documents, the institution also causes problems for the young, low-status males denied wives by older, wealthy men who have hoarded all the women. And those young men create problems for everybody.

“Monogamous marriage reduces crime,” Henrich and colleagues write, pulling together studies showing that polygynous societies create large numbers of unmarried men, whose presence is correlated with increased rates of rape, theft, murder, and substance abuse. According to Henrich, the problem with unmarried men appears to come primarily from their lack of investment in family life and in children. Young men without futures tend to engage in riskier behaviors because they have less to lose. And, too, they may engage in certain crimes to get wives—stealing to amass enough wealth to attract women, or kidnapping other men’s wives.

Ms. Copeland also addresses the effects polygamy produces for individual men, women, and children. These effects are consistently negative:

That polygyny is bad for women is not necessarily intuitive. As economist Robert H. Frank has pointed outwomen in polygynist marriages should have more power because they’re in greater demand, and men should wind up changing more diapers. But historically, polygamy has proved to be yet another setup that [harms] the XX set. Because there are never enough of them to go around, they wind up being married off younger. Brothers and fathers, realizing how valuable their female relations are, tend to control them more. And, as one would expect, polygynous households foster jealousy and conflict among co-wives. Ethnographic surveys of 69 polygamous cultures “reveals no case where co-wife relations could be described as harmonious,” Henrich writes, with what must be a good dose of understatement.

Children, too, appear to suffer in polygamous cultures. Henrich examines a study comparing 19th-century Mormon households, 45 of them headed by wealthy men, generally with multiple wives, and 45 headed by poorer men, generally with one wife each. What’s surprising is that the children of the poorer men actually fared better, proving more likely to survive to age 15. Granted, this is a small study, but it’s consistent with other studies, including one from Africa showing that the children of monogamous households tend to do better than those from polygynous households in the same communities. Why? Some scholars suspect that polygyny may discourage paternal investment. Men with lots of children and wives are spread too thin, and to make things worse, they’re compiling resources to attract their next wives instead of using it on their existing families.

For more on the benefits of intact, monogamous marriage for society and individuals, visit www.marri.us.

How Divorce Hurts Children

child well-being, crime, divorce, education, family, MARRI, marriage, religion No comments

By Anna Dorminey, Staff

MARRI’s latest Research Synthesis paper, The Effects of Divorce on Children, discusses the myriad ways in which divorce directly and indirectly hurts children.

Each year, over a million American children suffer the divorce of their parents. Divorce causes irreparable harm to all involved, but most especially to the children. Though it might be shown to benefit some individuals in some individual cases, over all it causes a temporary decrease in an individual’s quality of life and puts some “on a downward trajectory from which they might never fully recover.”[1]

The paper discusses divorce’s effects across six categories:

· Family: The parent-child relationship is weakened, and children’s perception of their ability (as well as their actual ability) to develop and commit to strong, healthy romantic relationships is damaged.

· Religious practice: Divorce diminishes the frequency of worship of God and recourse to Him in prayer.

· Education: Children’s learning capacity and educational attainment are both diminished.

· The marketplace: Household income falls and children’s individual earning capacity is cut deeply.

· Government: Divorce significantly increases crime, abuse and neglect, drug use, and the costs of compensating government services.

· Health and well-being: Divorce weakens children’s health and longevity. It also increases behavioral, emotional, and psychiatric risks, including even suicide.