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J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2011 May;50(5):471-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jaac.2011.01.014. Epub 2011 Apr 19.

Parental familism and antisocial behaviors: development, gender, and potential mechanisms.

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Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, USA.



To examine the relation between parental familism (strong values of attachment to nuclear and extended family members) and youth antisocial behaviors over time.


Puerto Rican children 5 to 13 years of age at baseline residing in the South Bronx in New York (n = 1,138) and in the Standard Metropolitan Area in San Juan and Caguas, Puerto Rico (n = 1,353) were followed over two waves 1 year apart from 2000 to 2004. Parental familism was assessed using an adaptation of the Sabogal Familism Scale. Level of youth past-year antisocial behaviors was measured by the Antisocial Behavior Index. The association between familism and Antisocial Behavior Index over three waves was examined through mixed models stratified by age and gender, adjusted by site (South Bronx or San Juan), propensity scores reflecting site differences in family income, maternal age and education, plus environmental and child risk factors. Specific family processes were examined as potential mediators.


Parental familism was protective against antisocial behaviors in girls (estimate = -0.11, standard error = 0.03, p < .001 for 5- to 9-year-olds; estimate = -0.15, standard error = 0.03, p < .0001 for those ≥ 10 years old). For boys, parental familism was only protective in 5- to 9-year-olds (estimate = -0.09, standard error = 0.03, p = .0008). The protective effect of parental familism on antisocial behaviors operated mostly through parent-child relationships for 5- to 9-year-old children and parental attitudes/behaviors toward youth high-risk behaviors for both age groups.


Familism may protect youth against increasing levels of antisocial behaviors (except for boys who are ≥ 10 years old). Incorporating familism as part of therapeutic approaches addressing antisocial behaviors for youth may be helpful.

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