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Am J Community Psychol. 2004 Mar;33(1-2):51-9.

Exploring risk in early adolescent African American youth.

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  • 1Center for Developmental Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599-8115, USA.


Two studies were conducted to explore the degree to which single- and multiple-risk profiles were evident in samples of African American early adolescents in low-income inner-city, rural, and suburban schools. Study 1 examined early adolescent risk status (i.e., single, multiple) in relation to later adjustment in a representative sample (70% European American, 30% African American). Youth who experienced a single risk in early adolescence had moderately increased levels of school dropout and criminal arrests, whereas youth with multiple risks (i.e., combination of 2 or more risks) had significantly increased levels of school dropout, criminal arrests, and teen parenthood. Study 2 examined the extent to which single- and multiple-risk profiles were evident in cross-sectional samples of African American youth from low-income inner-city and rural areas. About one fourth of both the inner-city and rural samples of African American youth were composed of youth in the single-risk category. A significantly greater proportion of boys in the inner-city sample (20%) than boys in the rural sample (13%) experienced multiple risks. Girls across the rural and inner-city samples did not differ in terms of risk. Overall, more than 60% of African American youth in these two low-income samples did not evidence risk for later adjustment problems. Implications for research and intervention are discussed.

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