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J Prim Prev. 2009 Jul;30(3-4):215-63. doi: 10.1007/s10935-009-0173-0. Epub 2009 Apr 22.

Acculturation and violence in minority adolescents: a review of the empirical literature.

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  • 1School of Social Work, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CB # 3550, 325 Pittsboro St., Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3550, USA. smokowsk@email.unc.edu

Abstract

Although seminal reviews have been published on acculturation and mental health in adults and adolescents, far less is known about how acculturation influences adolescent interpersonal and self-directed violence. This article aims to fill this gap by providing a comprehensive review of research linking acculturation and violence behavior for adolescents of three minority populations: Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander (A/PI), and American Indian/Alaskan Native (AI/AN). The preponderance of evidence from studies on Latino and A/PI youth indicate that higher levels of adolescent assimilation (i.e., measured by time in the United States, English language use, U.S. cultural involvement, or individualism scales) were a risk factor for youth violence. Ethnic group identity or culture-of-origin involvement appear to be cultural assets against youth violence with supporting evidence from studies on A/PI youth; however, more studies are needed on Latino and AI/AN youth. Although some evidence shows low acculturation or cultural marginality to be a risk factor for higher levels of fear, victimization, and being bullied, low acculturation also serves as a protective factor against dating violence victimization for Latino youth. An important emerging trend in both the Latino and, to a lesser extent, A/PI youth literature shows that the impact of acculturation processes on youth aggression and violence can be mediated by family dynamics. The literature on acculturation and self-directed violence is extremely limited and has conflicting results across the examined groups, with high acculturation being a risk factor for Latinos, low acculturation being a risk factor of A/PI youth, and acculturation-related variables being unrelated to suicidal behavior among AI/AN youth. Bicultural skills training as a youth violence and suicide prevention practice is discussed.

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