Academic disengagement and peer aggression among Black youth often reflect mismanagement of stereotype threat in classrooms and on playgrounds where the pressures of resolving coping stress conflicts flourish. This study is based upon the transactional model of cognitive-phenomenological stress theory. We propose that African American youth often struggle with stereotypes of appearing intellectually inferior in the classroom and socially helpless in peer conflicts. Culturally relevant interventions (CRIs) that appreciate the cognitive restructuring and social skills required to manage these stressful health-risk moments and interactions require careful planning before efficacy and effectiveness trials can be initiated. We intend to use Racial/Ethnic/Cultural socialization (REC) as a strategy to bridge the gap between stress reactions during classroom/recreation activities and the development of social skills that may promote student competence. The construct of RECS has been researched as a protective factor in many studies on academic achievement, anger expression, and depression among Black youth, so CRIs that are driven by RECS have potential in promoting self-efficacy that factors into coping skills development and application. Previous research in this type of CRI called PLAAY has been successful but is in the beginning stages of development and requires more rigorous study. This proposal seeks to target whether parents as supportive sources of RECS can stimulate Black youth to reduce ineffective stressful reactions of academic disengagement and peer retaliation and promote alternative coping outcomes in classroom and recreational contexts. One-hundred thirty parent and 130 youth participants between the ages of 12-14, identified by teachers, parents, and community activists, will be recruited and referred to a local urban community recreation center. This two-year study seeks to replicate and extend the findings of previous PLAAY work. We do this by focusing on parents as the partners with PLAAY staff to be agents of racial/ethnic socialization with the goal of teaching youth how to negotiate conflicts and manage their anxiety and anger in the midst of conflicts with authority figures (coaches, teachers, police, and parents) and peers in classrooms and on playgrounds. In year one, we will develop partnerships with community leaders to construct the intervention model with sensitivity to the school and neighborhood politics, history, and leadership, develop the parent group training model, recruit and train parent participants, and conduct a pre-post randomized control trial of PLAAY with the first cohort of participants. In Year 2, we will repeat these steps with a second cohort of participants. We will also evaluate PLAAY's effects on parenting satisfaction and involvement as well as youth rejection sensitivity and reading achievement. Other relevant research questions include whether parents'or youths'racial socialization experience moderates the effect of PLAAY on these outcomes. Finally, we will use the findings of this research to support the development of a more sophisticated efficacy study of PLAAY within a future RO1 proposal.

Public Health Relevance

The PLAAY intervention seeks to train parents to provide racial coping knowledge and emotionally- supportive coaching to Black youth who worry about appearing incompetent in classrooms or appearing weak in interpersonal conflicts on the playgrounds. As students learn to negotiate these gender and racially tense conflicts with peers and teachers and become savvy about the societal injustices, they feel competent in their abilities to face difficult academic and interpersonal challenges. Reducing the stress that promotes academic disengagement and peer aggression can reduce greater and related public health problems of substance abuse, unprotected sexual behavior, poor eating habits, physical inactivity and violence perpetration.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Psychosocial Development, Risk and Prevention Study Section (PDRP)
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Maholmes, Valerie
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University of Pennsylvania
Schools of Education
United States
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