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J Youth Adolesc. 2013 Jan;42(1):136-46. doi: 10.1007/s10964-012-9804-5. Epub 2012 Aug 14.

Context matters: links between neighborhood discrimination, neighborhood cohesion and African American adolescents' adjustment.

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  • 1National Center for Children and Families, Teachers College, Columbia University, 525 West 120th Street, Box 39, New York, NY 10027, USA.


Racial discrimination has serious negative consequences for the adjustment of African American adolescents. Taking an ecological approach, this study examined the linkages between perceived racial discrimination within and outside of the neighborhood and urban adolescents' externalizing and internalizing behaviors, and tested whether neighborhood cohesion operated as a protective factor. Data came from 461 African American adolescents (mean age = 15.24 years, SD = 1.56; 50 % female) participating in the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods. Multilevel models revealed that perceived discrimination within youth's neighborhoods was positively related to externalizing, and discrimination both within and outside of youth's neighborhoods predicted greater internalizing problems. Neighborhood cohesion moderated the association between within-neighborhood discrimination and externalizing. Specifically, high neighborhood cohesion attenuated the association between within-neighborhood discrimination and externalizing. The discussion centers on the implications of proximal stressors and neighborhood cohesion for African American adolescents' adjustment.

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