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minority children and adolescents has been well documented and reported on for a long time. These youth consistently struggle to find success academically and socially. Many reasons for this have been proposed, ranging from underfunded schools, gang violence, lack of proper role models and parental care, among others. Since the late 1960s activists and advocacy groups have pushed American psychologists to include ethnic minorities as an individual focus of research (Pickren, 2004). The goal of this paper is to examine how the self-concept is involved in the development of minority youth, both positively and negatively. Ultimately, we will discuss and explore how proposed interventions and potential future programs can be utilized to use the self-concept to better the lives of these individuals. A variety of aspects pertaining to the self-concept and how current psychological research has explored these ideas will be examined. In the first section we will discuss basic issues concerning the selfconcept. We will examine why these are of particular importance to ethnic minority youth, and why these individuals deserve our attention. Next, we will look at various types of self-concept and how these have been studied within this group. These will include ethnic and academic facets of self-concept. These differ in how the individual views themselves in the terms of these three focuses. We will then turn our attention to various contexts in which self-concept is of importance to the lives of these individuals. These will include threats of stereotype and prejudice, salience of race differences, and family influences. Last, we will examine various proposed treatment programs, and explore new programs that we will construct based on our previous discussions.
2 First we must define what we mean by “self”. Psychologists view the self as two constructs, the I and the Me. We will define I as the entity which is constantly perceiving and experiencing the world around us. This construct serves the purpose to differentiate ourselves from other things and people in our world, as well as maintain a sense of continuity in our lives; I saw this person, and then I said this to them. If the I is the objective perception of our world, then the Me is one’s subjective psychological experience. This construct is made up of self-referent thoughts, such as considering oneself as “intelligent” or “funny”. The Me is generally thought to be composed of the two terms called self-concept and self-esteem. The Me will be the focus of our study, with our focus on self-concept, although we will often encounter self-esteem in our discussion. Particularly we will pay attention to the development of the Me through middlechildhood and adolescence. These ages present the times when self-concept is the most malleable, as we gain cognitive abilities and truly begin to define ourselves apart from others. Why is studying this aspect of the self so important? As we will see, our self-concept plays a key role in how we think and feel about ourselves, as well as what attitudes we create about the world and how we behave in that world. In this way, the self-concept could be argued as one of the most important psychological factors to be studied. The group on which this literature review focuses, ethnic minority youth, was chose deliberately. Why focus on children and adolescents? Many aspects of the self are being directly formed during these years, especially during adolescence. Various aspects of life during these ages are formative and carry into adulthood, so it is important to study what is happening during this time period and how it effects formation of the self-concept. This is especially true when considering the possible negative behaviors that can be occurring during adolescence in particular, and what effect this may have on self-concept formation. It has been found that co-occurrence of harmful behaviors
3 is prominent in teenagers. One study found that on average teenagers participate in at least four different negative behaviors, including smoking, alcohol abuse, minor and major delinquencies, sexual activity, aggression, and gambling (Willoughby, et al., 2004). Ethnic minority youth are presented with various environmental stressors that are unique to their demographic, and so it is arguably even more important to study these individuals. Some have suggested that race is not a relevant variable for personality research (Edwards, 1974), but our review of the literature will show that there are in fact differences between ethnic majority and minority youth in this area of psychology, and that minority youth face a unique set of circumstances in their development that influence how they form ideas about self. For example, it has been suggested that an overwhelming amount of those youth who are repeatedly admitted to psychiatric care are African Americans, confirming reports that African Americans are overrepresented in psychiatric settings (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2001). Additionally, the individual and community poverty often experienced by these youth has been connected to beliefs supporting aggression and aggressive behavior (Guerra, Huesmann, Tolan, Van Acker, & Eron, 1995). It is important to note that while the majority of the research we discuss will draw their samples from largely Black populations, other ethnic minorities will be involved as well, including Hispanic and Asian individuals. Why look at various aspects of the self-concept? By doing so we can look at particular parts of people’s self-concept, in order to create a fuller picture of their subjective psychological experiences and examine the potential consequences. William James (1890) divided the self into three subcategories: material self, social self, and spiritual self. We will divide the self into further, more specific categories. These categories will apply to certain areas of one’s life that people are more likely to actually think about themselves in, such as ethnic and academic selves.
Our goal is to look at specific aspects of the lives of ethnic minority youth. with the goal of gaining insight into how the development or lack of development. Next. gaining insight into the persistent academic gap between minority youth and their White counterparts. we will examine how parental and family influences affect the development and maintenance of certain aspects of the self-concept. Ethnic Self-Concept We begin our examination of the literature by focusing on how racial minority youth identify ethnically.4 That is to say. and examine how and why these areas self-concept develop and manifest. Last. We will then look at how ethnic minority youth think of themselves academically. as well as the positive and negative consequences they may have. and the potential implications of this. Current psychological research has focused on a few of these aspects in order to gain further understanding into the components that form a person’s overall self-concept. While there are different measures used to operationalize ethnic identity. and how the perceived presence of these can affect self-concept. Sub-Sets of Self-Concept People form a self-concept towards many aspects of their lives. of this aspect of self-concept can be beneficial or detrimental to psychological well-being. Research has found that having various forms of ethnic identity has a host of consequences. we will examine what makes aspects of the self more salient in certain circumstances. one of . What factors outside of the individual effect how and why self-concept develops and manifests itself? We will first look at stereotypes and prejudice. people are more likely to regularly consider who they are ethnically or academically then in the three categories James suggests. We include ethnic identity because we are studying ethnic minorities.
In this case ethnic identity was measured by self-reported affiliation attitudes and belongingness in the individual’s personal ethnic group . Our goal in this section is to try to form an answer to the question: Is it good for racial minority youth to have a strong ethnic identity? Without even looking at the literature. We will now look more specifically at the current literature. 1992). Asia. It makes sense that it would be a good aspect. research has provided some evidence that having a strong ethnic identity can be helpful. and it’s various subsets (Phinney. If a young person identifies solely with their own ethnic group. one might come to other conclusions. However. What are the potential benefits and consequences of having a high or low ethnic identity? One study found that young Black female adolescents were significantly less likely to have risky sexual attitudes if they reported a high ethnic identity. where everyone is equal and no thought is given to race? Why should we encourage pride in being Black. South America. Yazedjian. 2004). the Ethnic Identity scale.5 the most common is the Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure (MEIM). when we certainly wouldn’t encourage people to voice “pride” in being White? Overall. when thinking specifically about African American youth. One would think that having this pride would increase selfesteem. but there seems to be a point where ethnic identity can be detrimental. aren’t we all striving for a world that doesn’t “see” color. Maybe it is better not to associate with a particular group if the dominant stereotypes about that group are negative. has been developed to address some of the limitations of the MEIM (Umaña-Taylor. or perhaps is simply pride in being American. seeing as many people in the US seem to have pride in their heritage. does that limit them to their own ethnic group socially? Can you be too ethnically identified? And in any case. Another popular measure. whether it traces back to somewhere in Europe. Bamaca-Gomez. one could logically make an argument for ethnic identity being a good or a bad aspect of self.
Encounter. Further longitudinal studies would help us understand how increases or a lack of increases in ethnic identity through childhood and adolescence facilitate positive youth outcomes and personal development for these individuals. and Internalization-commitment. These findings suggest that having a strong ethnic identity is a positive thing for ethnic minority youth. but statistically significant (Smith. This model is helpful for our discussion in that several studies refer to the principles laid out in Cross’s model. William Cross (1995) presented a model for the shifting ethnic identity. 2010). Another study supports the idea that the development of a strong ethnic identity is a positive thing. Abdou. The relation between high private racial regard and lower depression was especially strong when ethnicity was a central part of the women’s self-concept. Internalization. Pagano. Smith. it appears that “too much” or a certain extreme manifestation of ethnic identity can be very harmful. Finally.6 (Belgrave. In this case the ethnic component of self is aiding in better psychological well-being. Moving on to a different group of research. The Pre- . Immersion. We will discuss this possibility in more detail in the treatment section of this text. Navarette. Levine. and lower parent-reported aggressive behavior. school psychologists working with these children would be better equipped to help this specific group of children. That is to say higher levels of regard were related to higher self-esteem. Dumas. With proper scientific support. (Settles. 2000). which in turn related to lower depression. Chambers. Another study of young Black women showed that both high private and public racial identity were negatively correlated to depression. 2009). Van Oss Marin. The results of this longitudinal study showed that increases in ethnic identity from early to late elementary school aged children was related to higher self-esteem. Prinz. self-esteem played a mediating role between private/public self-regard and depression. The relationship was modest. which consists of five stages: Preencounter. better academic performance. Sidanius.
and research has been done to see how these stages manifest and what consequences they have for the individual. While they do not use the specific terms presented in Cross’s model. or vice-versa. This could include changes in dress. Anderson. everything considered White viewed positively. and is marked by pro-White/anti-Black attitudes. and is likely to occur later in adulthood. The final stage in Cross’s model. instead concerning themselves with the values of the majority. friends. are more likely to experience acculturative stress than those who take pride in their culture yet have generally more flexible racial attitudes. Those who have rigid attitudes towards race. During the Encounter stage involves the beginning of internalizing one’s ethnicity as part of their identity. These individuals do not value race as an essential part of their identity. involves long-term commitment to both furthering the ideals and needs of the Black group as well as for society as a whole. Acculturative stress is related to pressures of conforming one’s own culture with the dominant culture. Internalization-commitment. In this case these individuals could be placed in the pre-encounter and immersion stages of Cross’s model. . The Internalization stage involves a decrease in anti-White sentiment and security in identifying oneself with the Black group. and Bakeman (2000) found that the type of racial identity attitudes an individual has relates to the amount of acculturative stress they experience. These individuals are comfortable with both Black and White peers. everything considered Black viewed negatively. In the Immersion stage one begins to delve into their culture and begin to attempt to show their culture in their attitudes and behaviors. and general interests.7 encounter stage is when a person hasn’t begun the identity development process. and Cross argues this stage is only attainable by experiencing all the previous stages. Thompson. or what they consider they societal “norm”. Thinking about these stages it seems reasonable that older children and adolescents may be anywhere on the first four of these stages.
with an average age of 20. a belief in the natural ability of Blacks. It is important to note that this study used college aged participants. In this study it was found that current measurements of Afrocentric cultural values and positive ethnic identity were negatively related to measurements of racialized ethnic identity. and that individuals who remain at pre-encounter or immersion stages into adulthood are less likely to change their views and progress toward another stage. One set of results showed that endorsing Afrocentric values is negatively related to anti-White attitudes. Cokley (2005) made the differentiation between racialized and nonracialized ethnic identity. which is characterized by validation of Afrocentric values. beliefs about Afrocentrism. The use of the word Afrocentric is . These studies show the importance of noting the terminology used when discussing racial identity. This study also discussed problems with the term “Afrocentric”. particularly that individuals who received high levels of racial socialization were more likely to have pro-Black and anti-White attitudes. and their potential consequences. and lack of anti-White attitudes. strong ethnic identity. Individuals with these results were said to have nonracialized ethnic identity. It can be argued that Cross’s identity development stages are more likely to occur during adolescence.8 This study also found a positive correlation between racial socialization and racial identity attitudes. a strong ethnic identity. and negative endorsement of multiculturalist inclusive attitudes”. more research must be done in this area before any broad conclusions can be made about socialization’s effect on ethnic identity development. While this study suggests that racial socialization has a negative effect on ethnic identity development. while another set showed a positive relationship between these two variables. These distinctions are not made in all literature on this topic. Racialized ethnic identity is characterized by “antiWhite attitudes. rejection of internalized racialism. and it is important to consider all aspects that may contribute or be a part of ethnic self-concept.
and it is fair to assume that participants who rate statements using this word have different definitions for it. We initially wanted to answer the question of whether having an ethnic identity is a good thing. These latter individuals averaged higher self-esteem and better self-reinforcement against racism. There is some literature that suggests that it is. This finding suggests two possible interpretations. this study also found that those who identified more with the overall “Black group” reported lower self-esteem (Pierre and Mahalik. 2005). This issue is one that is present throughout the literature on this topic. However. Extensive further research is necessary before psychologists can create a specific accurate model of how ethnic identity develops. However. or Black men feel worse about themselves when identifying themselves more with their Black peers than White peers. and a model such as this would be very helpful in . which may not be fully explained by Cross’s model. Either Black men with low self-esteem identify more with Black individuals than White. One study of male African American college students found that those who showed preencounter or immersion racial identity (Cokley’s racialized ethnic identity) showed more signs of psychological distress and had lower self-esteem than those individuals who showed positive internalization of racial identity. Let’s take a moment to reflect on these studies and their implications for our discussion. and one that must be resolved before this area of study can begin to make further progress. since it appears that those who would fall into the internalization stage have lower selfesteem.9 difficult because it is never clearly defined in the literature. There seem to be differing levels of ethnic identity development. Let us remember that our overall goal is to improve the lives of these individuals. The last study we discussed shows this to be evident. further study into what constitutes ethnic identity show that the picture is more complicated for ethnic identity than a simple “yes it’s good” or “no it’s bad”.
One’s first thought in investigating the literature was that there would be a point of being ethnically identified that would be too much. yet is seems to have real consequences. RotheramBorus (1990) examined this in a large.” or “ethnically identified”. and AsianAmericans mostly identified themselves as bicultural (40-47%) or ethnically identified (26%).10 achieving this goal. and what do these individuals looks like? Pierre and Mahalik’s study above shows that group association may be an important factor in developing a healthy ethnic identity. yet also reported worrying attitudes and behaviors. thus would likely fall into fourth or fifth stages of Cross’s model. they did hold more separatist attitudes. and report more cross-ethnic conflict. ethnically diverse group of high school students.” “bicultural. grade point average. which is observed in the pre-encounter and immersion stages. Blacks. So where do we draw the line? The individuals in Rotheram-Borus’s study who reported as “ethnically identified” still had positive academic and social outcomes. Not surprisingly White students were significantly more likely to identify themselves as mainstream. it seems that there is a point where the development of ethnic identity is actually not enough. The prevalence of the bicultural label suggests that these students identify both with their own ethnic culture and with the White “mainstream” culture. as many have. while ethnic minority students. This important aspect of ethnic identity is not always explicitly discussed in the literature. engage in less cross-ethnic contact outside of school. This article also continues to highlight the need for further . or social competence. including Hispanics. How can we encourage individuals to progress to a healthy level of ethnic identification. Looking at it from Cross’s model. The most interesting results came from those who rated themselves as “ethnically identified”. While these individuals did not show any differences in self-esteem. asking them to categorize their ethnic reference-group as “mainstream.
which are often largely constituted by ethnic minorities. So should we simply allocate more money to these schools. 1998). but this is not the case. as Cross would argue? Or are these individuals taking ethnicity “too far”. Do we need to encourage these individuals into the next stage of development. as research has shown that schools in affluent areas spend more money per student. or do we need to work to tone ethnic identity down to a more adaptive level? As we will see later. 2003. Fite and Pardini. So where is the problem? Many point to underfunded public school systems in urban environments. Academic Self-Concept Receiving successful or substandard education is one of the biggest obstacles that many ethnic minority children will face in their young lives. even if not directly related to school (Schwartz & Gorman. This gap includes high school graduation rates.11 work to understand how and why ethnic identity develops. so it is of the utmost importance to further our knowledge in this area in order to improve the lives of these children and adolescents. while budget cuts often hit schools in low-income areas even harder than those in affluent areas. to the point where the negative consequences start to pile up? One might view this problem as simply one of semantics. scores in reading and math. McLoyd. 2009. . Are these negative findings truly the case of lack of development. While the trend is narrowing. there has been a consistent academic achievement gap between Black and White children in this country. These children endure unique problems in their lives that can have detrimental effects on their academics. oftentimes ethnicity is a far more salient problem for these youth. Answering these questions has important implications for potential treatment and prevention strategies in addressing ethnicity problems for these youth. This issue certainly plays a large role. These low-income area schools often consist mainly of ethnic minority students. and amount of students who go to college.
Research suggests that this stereotype is real and could begin at an early age. More generally. Research has been done to show this phenomenon at work. A study of ethnically diverse 5th grade students aimed to see if there is a difference in how self-concept . they want to do well. thus put in less effort in school. this would be the belief that being successful academically is a “White thing”. and how these children’s attitudes towards academics can play an important role in their success.12 and then the problem is solved? As with any important issue. In this section we will look at psychological issues that affect the academic life of ethnic minority students. Once these stereotypes are learned. Academic disidentification In attempting to determine where the problem is for these disadvantaged children. there is no one easy solution. we must look at what is actually happening in these schools and in the minds of the students. This belief might act as a self-fulfilling prophecy. 1992). which is the lack of association between one’s identity and academics in general. and thus Black students do not put as much effort to academics. If this is the case then it suggests that something happens during the education process which alters the way they view themselves and their academic possibilities or prowess. one theory argues that students disidentify with academics in order to avoid confirmed the stereotype that Black students do not perform well academically (Steele. This phenomenon could also serve to protect self-esteem. One possible stereotype that negatively affects Black students academic outcomes is academic disidentification. 2002). There resulting poor performance confirms and continues the stereotype. as Black students do not believe they can or will do well academically. It is fair to assume that children are born with a positive identification to academics. and try to understand what its causes are. This effect has also been called academic disidentification (Cokley.
while White students with high self-concept recalled positive words more frequently (August & Felker. which states that individuals remember items better if they can refer those items to themselves. the magnitude and strength of this effect is significantly lower for Black males (Cokley. as we have discussed. Furr. 2011). Voight. leading to greater memorization and recall of negative words. it is possible that these students view themselves negatively based on their ethnicity and/or their perceived academic possibilities. and college students who are ethnic minorities (Mallet et al. 1977). 2002). Similar research suggests Black girls are less likely to attribute academic success to personal attributes. The authors found that Black children with high levels of self-concept were more likely to recall negative adjectives. 1984). . Ware. high school. It has even been suggested that even bringing up one’s ethnicity can have negative academic effects. This occurrence has been found in middle school. Fulkerson. These sorts of findings are not limited to younger children. It has been found that while there is a positive correlation between academic self-concept and academic performance in Black and White older students.. and have been linked directly to an individual’s academic self-concept. while this effect was far less predominant in White children (Brown.13 could play a role in children’s verbal learning styles. This finding suggests that not only can people’s ethnicity affect how they feels about themselves. Although it is speculation. while being more likely to blame oneself for bad results. but this can also affect learning styles. or how they incorporate academics into their identity. In interpreting these results it is important to mention the phenomenon of the self-referent effect. Probing about an individual’s ethnic identification resulted in lower reported school belonging than when only school belonging was reported alone.
What factors affect how and why self-concept manifests. It is easy to throw blame at underfunding. followed . and what are the consequences? We will begin with two quick looks at aspects pertaining particularly to ethnicity. Only then can we create plans to fix these problems. for it seems clear that ethnic minority children are being negatively affected by education and/or societal messages. so what is happening? Are teachers treating these kids in such a way that portrays they are destined to fail? Is social media. non-motivated teachers. but we must remember these are not the most important things. Context In this section we will examine the various contexts that effect self-concept and youth outcomes. instilling the belief that academic success is impossible? Are parents not properly fostering their children and encouraging them to succeed academically? Or maybe these children simply look at their world and see no reason to believe in themselves. First we will examine self-concept in the context of racial prejudice and discrimination.14 Our society should be worried by these findings. It is a complicated issue. or negative environments. What is most important is thinking about those who suffer because of those outside factors. such as music and television. Seeking further understanding of the origins to these negative self-beliefs should be a priority for future research. but those who are being affected. but one of extreme importance. The goal of eliminating both the stereotype of Black children in academics as well as the achievement gap must start with fully understanding not only the surrounding factors. and to truly gain insight into the problem we must look into the minds and experiences of these children. and putting them at a disadvantage academically. Where are these attitudes and beliefs coming from? It is a fair assumption that the majority of these children are not actively being told that they will not and cannot do well in school.
Just as individuals differ in how they deal with stress. However. It could be argued that children of this age are too young to truly understand prejudice. Last we will take a deeper look into the role of parents and family and how they influence the development of self-concept. From our previous discussion of ethnic identity we concluded that there is evidence that a healthy ethnic identity can be beneficial. Racial Prejudice & Discrimination Prejudice can be defined as a false and generally negative attitude towards members of a particular group. stereotype beliefs. and discriminatory behavior (Plous. However. which could be even more harmful. This is an important area of research because if psychologists can distinguish what personal differences cause someone to deal with discrimination stress better than another. Black. Huynh.15 by salience of race. 2011). 2003). and White children in 6th and 8th grade were found to generally have the same amount of awareness of racial bias. Hispanic. Masten. it has also been found that children with a stronger ethnic identity recognize ethnic bias and prejudice earlier and more frequently than those with weaker ethnic identities. Particularly. but this would mean that they could be making all kinds of false or negative beliefs and attitudes about prejudice. it could help in developing treatments and interventions for those who are more susceptible to this stressor. While one might not be particularly worried about racism in elementary school. perhaps it is something that we should be paying more attention to. Prejudice often includes negative feelings. Particularly in the late 1990s there was a push . Discrimination for our purposes can be defined as negative or abusive behavior towards someone of a different race. Alabi. especially for ethnic minority youth. 4th grade minority students were conscious of racial bias significantly more than White children at this age (Brown. it is fair to assume that people would vary in how they deal with racist discrimination and the accompanying stress.
However. This has implications for everyone involved in the child’s life. The literature on this topic is inconclusive. Landrine & Klonoff. and 11th grade students. that is. 1990. Interestingly this effect was found across ages. This is a difficult thing to study however.. 1996. while those with low self-esteem did not (Fischer & Shaw. Salience of Ethnicity The distinctiveness postulate states that what aspects of identity people characterize themselves as depend on how those characteristics differ from an individual’s environment. Szalacha et al. 1999). and it has been suggested that ethnic consciousness is significantly more salient for Black and Hispanic children than White children (McGuire.16 to study what factors might play a mediating role between perceived racism and mental health. 2003). including 1st. McGuire. Fugioka. Such odd findings could be due to methodological flaws or flaws in the measures used. 3rd. a study of young Black adults had found no relationship between perceived racism and mental health. 1978). This idea has been applied to the context in which ethnic identity manifests in ethnic minority youth. they cannot apply discrimination ethically. and some studies have found this result (Sue & Sue. as researchers cannot experimentally manipulate racist discrimination. but either way the conclusion is that more research needs to be done in this area to gain insight into how prejudice and discrimination may be affecting ethnic minority youth. Child. 7th. It would be logical to think that there would be a positive correlation between perceived racism and mental health issues. Simply. Additionally individuals with high self-esteem reported poorer mental health when they had high levels of perceived racist discrimination. Again we have evidence that race may be an important factor in the lives of younger children. Another example of the distinctiveness postulate is one that we are all familiar with: When there is only one person of a . one is conscious of certain personal characteristics only insofar that they are different.
17 certain race in a group that shares ethnicity with each other. However. 2005). with relatively little attention given to racial minorities in terms of the relationship between parenting and various youth outcomes. and if the result is positive or negative characteristics. Reflecting back on our discussion of ethnic identity. and relations with family of origin. We will discuss existing research. Parental and Family Influence There exists a large body of literature about the beneficial effects parents and families can have on their children. while negatively associated with aggressive behaviors (Skowron. In terms of salience. Walden. we can work to encourage or avoid these situations and contexts. and Thompson (2007) found evidence to support this theory. lower . it is a relevant topic to explore because if we can determine what scenarios and circumstances causes salience. their relationships. Individuals who were put in solo status conditions experienced increased racial identification. and performance apprehension. here causing performance anxiety. One measure of overall familial relationships has been positively correlated with child resilience to environmental stressors and academic achievement. Positive parent-child relations have been related to higher self-esteem. race-reflection. and stated that this occurs because race is more salient in these situations. The racially unique individual here is in racial solo status. The development of self involves individuals. particularly how parents affect the development of ethnic identity in their children. this is a scenario that is often portrayed in a comedic sense in movies and on television. Whether it’s one Black individual in a group of White individuals or vice-versa. and theory states that this increases racial identity in Black individuals. much of this research has focused on White families. Sekaquaptewa. the degree to which individuals experience these was positively correlated to how important ethnicity was to their identity. we see here how ethnic identity can be a potential detriment at times. However.
increased communication between parents and children (Fulkerson et al. a good longitudinal study can be incredibly insightful. While they found that most individuals experienced an overall increase in ethnic identity over time.” We all know that family.18 rates of anti-social behavior (Arbona & Power. and less negative impact of racism on psychological functioning (Bynum. In fact. Most would agree that good parent-child relationships have many . Rodriguez. Manongdo. As is often the case for studies of youth and adolescents. these effects were significantly stronger when youth also reported more positive family relations and better perceptions of their parents (Huang. Burton. Additionally. For children and adolescents. 2007).. 2010). are important to a child’s development. 2011). Smith. Best. parents in particular. UmañaTaylor. parents can play a large role in the development of ethnic identity. and Johnson (2009) wrote a short review of seven studies which found that ethnic socialization in ethnic minority families contributes to better psychological and academic youth outcomes. Ramirez Garcia. In this section we want to answer a simple question: Why? What sort of behaviors do parents of ethnic minority youth engage in that are either beneficial or detrimental to their child’s development. How much the parents encourages incorporating ethnicity into a child’s sense of self could have obvious implication for the development of ethnic identity. 2003). Just like the sitcom. One such study involved measuring the development of ethnic identity over a 4-year period in a racially diverse sample. research has shown that “Family Matters. and Cruz-Santiago (2010) related this sort of encouragement to lower adolescent substance abuse. particularly the development of self-related characteristics? How exactly does the parent-child relationship relate to various aspects of children’s and adolescents’ self-concept? We have previously concluded that a healthy level of positive ethnic identity can have several beneficial effects. while Smalls (2010) found that the fostering of ethnic pride by parents was related to higher levels of academic engagement.
Could the development of ethnic identity play a mediating role in these results? Future research is needed to begin to answer that question. That is. social groups. it is equally important to consider how research can aid us in helping parents avoid doing the wrong thing. This includes preventing and treating the negative symptoms. While the findings we have discussed may be interesting. their real value comes from how they can be used to create prevention and treatment plans. and lower optimism (Taylor. This study suggests that one of these effects pertains to ethnic identity. It is generally believed that afterschool programs can have positive effects on children. but research has shown that demanding or stressful family relations can have several negative effects on these youth. We will not discuss this area in depth in this review. 2011). Budescu. which we have concluded can be beneficial to overall well-being. While it is fair to conclude that familial relations play an important role in the development of many positive consequences for ethnic minority youth. but the goal of psychological study must be to take these findings and create ways to apply them in order to better people’s lives. but also fostering the positive consequences. Our review will focus mainly on programs implemented in schools. McGill. Prevention and Treatment Learning about the workings of the human mind is interesting. including depression. it is important to remember the flip-side of this conclusion. We will now look at several strategies and intervention plans studied by the psychological community. whether they are clubs. lower self-esteem. Perhaps the most basic strategy is afterschool programs. While it is important to take these studies and think about how psychologists can help parents do the right thing with their children.19 beneficial effects of children and their development. . negative family relations could have the opposite effects for all of the studies we have discussed.
However. These programs are especially important to schools in urban. aimed at preventing problems and nurturing positive growth. Brooks-Gunn. School psychologists should look into this program in order to learn for themselves. implementing. Another program which has found success is Head Start. The unfortunate truth is that many families will not have access to programs like these. Friedrich-Cofer. low-funding can severely limit the choices children and parents have for afterschool programs. Zhai. Susman. 1999). Luckily. increase their social skills. The program’s main goal is to ready young children for academic success. The program did not have any effect on behavioral problems. and fewer attention problems. increased social competence. and found that these programs increased positive social interactions with peers and adults. To think that programs that have the potential to be effective at preventing negative outcomes while fostering positive ones are being made unavailable to those students who need it most is unacceptable. and maintaining of afterschool programs. but obviously not perfect. which is the largest publicly funded early childhood education and care program in the United States. McBride Kipnis. Further research by the psychological community could be a powerful tool in the designing. where children have fewer positive outlets and more opportunities for getting into trouble. low-income areas. or just remove some time that young students pay otherwise spend getting into trouble (Posner and Vandell. as well as imaginative play when supplemented by related materials. Huston-Stein. and Clewett (1979) studied the effects of pro-social television programs at one Head Start center.20 or sports. teamwork. The Head Start program is good. With further research and . more creative plans have been designed as well. but also to contribute into making the program even more effective. These programs can teach children responsibility. and Waldfogel (2011) found that children who participated in this program had higher cognitive ability.
which could be immensely helpful for parents. Mufson. In the time since this study children’s television has changed. One plan that has found broad success is peer-assisted learning (PAL). Another study done by Elias and Haynes (2008) found a relationship between academic outcomes and social-emotional competency. PAL is a broad term for interventions that include peer tutoring and cooperative learning activities. Continued psychological research could lead to entire television channels dedicated to these types of programs. an interpersonal skills class may have a preventative effect. Many programs that are designed to treat behavioral or emotional problems involve some sort of interpersonal education or skill development. A review of several studies by Ginsburg-Block. Rohrbeck. ethnic minority students. and Turner (2010) found that interpersonal psychotherapy was useful in treating ethnic minority adolescents suffering from depression. these types of television programs could be made available to parents to use in their homes. low-income. Gunlicks-Stoessel.21 modification. This could be an effective. with some programs now explicitly stating how they are aiding your child’s development. Some believe that children would have fewer of these problems if schools addressed interpersonal skill development explicitly. and Fantuzzo (2006) found that this type of intervention was successful in creating positive academic and social outcomes in elementary aged students. Instead of waiting for the depression. and these effects were more pronounced for urban. School is certainly a place to acquire social skills. cost efficient strategy for urban schools to foster the academic and social success of their young students. Jekal. or at least prevent some of the social dysfunction that contributes to the depression. In this case those students with higher . especially when these individuals report high levels of conflict at home and/or social dysfunction with their peers. but children and adolescents may benefit from classes dedicated solely to interpersonal skill development.
Kilgore. This suggests that school psychologists and even teachers should be aware and pay attention to young students’ social and emotional experiences in order to foster academic success. The review done by Ginsburg-Block and her colleagues (2006) found that PAL interventions were significantly more effective when administered at an early age. even if it is not the most cost effective solution. Kellam. and Ialongo (2009) illustrated the benefits of early prevention programs in their study. Psychological research on how parents could play key roles in prevention is vital. Last. Diemer. and psychological research on the effectiveness of such classes could be very helpful to schools. The responsibility for taking advantage of early prevention strategies is completely on the parents. and Hsieh (2006) found that perceived support . Snyder. if more difficult. These kinds of classes exist in some private schools. Trahan. perhaps with specially designed classes. Parents must realize and take responsibility for the role they play in affecting their children and making their lives more or less difficult.22 initial social-emotional competency and those who showed greater improvements in competency had better academic outcomes throughout the school year. By reading through the research it becomes clear that one important aspect of interventions is timing. Bradshaw. earlier is better. In general. Kauffman. the easiest prevention strategy that could be implemented is simply having support available. but getting that information to the parents is even more important. and Lentz (2000) found that coercive parent discipline and poor parental monitoring of their children at age 4 ½ was a reliable predictor of behavior problems at age 6. Koenig. Zmuda. where they found that classroom and family based intervention programs led to higher academic achievement and involvement in elementary school students when administered early in the children’s academic careers.
so does the mindset of the individuals within that society. but then to take that knowledge and apply it in order to change the lives of these youth for the better. In conclusion. and community is directly related to ethnic minority adolescents’ ability to challenge racism and social injustice. and so it is their duty not only to do so. Psychologists are trained to know how to reveal these insights. but into the world around them. and simply having a support system can go great lengths in helping these individuals believe in themselves and their ability to succeed despite the odds. we gain insight not only into their minds. The ability to rise up and succeed in a low-income urban life is difficult enough. The existing literature is a good start. . As society changes. while we have gained insight into the area of self in ethnic minority youth. family. as well as the world that is shaping our youth. By looking at how these individuals form their concept of self. Research must continue. and must not stop until the inequalities and unique struggles that these children face no longer exist. there is still significant work to be done.23 from peers.
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