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Soc Work Ment Health. 2007 May 1;5(1-2):101-119.

Urban African American Pre-Adolescent Social Problem Solving Skills: Family Influences and Association with Exposure to Situations of Sexual Possibility.

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The Columbia University School of Social Work.


The results of two studies focusing on the social problem solving skills of African American preadolescent youth are detailed. In the first study data from a sample of 150 African American children, ages 9 to 11 years, was used to examine the association between type of youth social problem solving approaches applied to hypothetical risk situations and time spent in unsupervised peer situations of sexual possibility. Findings revealed that children with more exposure to sexual possibility situations generated a wider range of social problem solving strategies, but these approaches tended to be unrealistic and ambiguous. Further, there was a positive association between the amount of time spent unsupervised and youth difficulty formulating a definitive response to hypothetical peer pressure situations. Children with less exposure to sexual possibility situations tended to be more aggressive when approaching situations of peer pressure. In the second study, data from a non-overlapping sample of 164 urban, African American adult caregivers and their 9 to 11 year old children was examined in order to explore the associations between child gender, family-level factors including family communication frequency and intensity, time spent in situations of sexual possibility, and youth social problem solving approaches. Results revealed that children were frequently using constructive problem solving and help seeking behaviors when confronted by difficult social situations and that there was a significant relationship between the frequency and intensity of parent child communication and youth help seeking social problem solving approaches. Implications for research and family-based interventions are highlighted.

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