Latino youth in immigrant families are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. school population and face elevated risks of externalizing and internalizing problems and barriers to social and academic competence. Compromised adolescent adjustment harms youth and adult health and promotes inter-generational transmissions of inequality. Parenting processes are strong, malleable correlates of Latino youth adjustment. A glaring weakness in Latino parenting research is inadequate attention to extra-familial cultural demands and opportunities. These demands and opportunities include language use and co-ethnic concentration in neighborhoods; discrimination and support in school and peer contexts; Latino student concentration in schools; peer bullying victimization; and immigrant experiences tied to documentation status, discrimination, migration, and transnationalism. Gaps in research are pronounced for new immigrant destinations, where a lack of established co-ethnic enclaves and language barriers pose unique challenges for Latino families adjusting to life in the U.S. The main goal of this application is to specify the cascade of effects from extra-familial cultural demands and opportunities to Latino adolescent adjustment in an emerging immigrant area. Using culturally informed theory, multi-level data, and multiple mediator models, this research will test the hypothesis that Latino cultural inclusion and support in neighborhood, school, peer and immigrant contexts will lead to declines in youth's externalizing and internalizing problems and increases in youth's social and academic competence during adolescence. The study's mediating hypothesis is that Latino cultural inclusion and support external to the family will influence youth outcomes indirectly by reducing acculturation-related stress (immigrant stressors such as deportation fears, social isolation, and language barriers; parent-child acculturation gaps; demands on youth language brokering) and, in turn, increasing effective parenting (supportive parenting, parental monitoring, family cohesion, low conflict). Effective parenting is hypothesized to be associated reciprocally with adolescents' positive adjustment. Tests of moderated mediation will examine variations in pathways to youth outcomes by adolescents' gender, age, length of U.S. residence, and transition to high school. Using an intentionally missing data design, this study will have 8 time points of data spanning 6th to 11th grade for 600 Latino parent-youth dyads representative of Latinos in a suburban Atlanta school district. The PI's research and partnerships with the school district strengthen feasibility for the proposed study. Data will be analyzed using multilevel, structural equation modeling. In a key departure from individual- and family-level studies, this study will use an integrated theoretical model of culturally relevant extra-familial factors salient to acculturation stressors, parenting, and Latino adolescent adjustment. Results will identify the timing and targets of culture-specific policies and programs enhancing family interventions in new immigrant areas. As one-third of K-12 U.S. students will be Latino in less than a decade, results will inform efforts to reduce the public health burden of poor adjustment among the U.S. school population. Increases in the U.S. Latino population, rapid growth in new immigrant areas, and current policy debates around immigration underscore the timely need for this research.

Public Health Relevance

This study will assess how cultural demands and opportunities in neighborhood, school, peer and immigrant contexts influence acculturation-related stressors and, in turn, parenting processes and adolescents' externalizing and internalizing problems and social and academic competence. Study activities include the collection and analysis of eight time points of survey data over a period of four years for a school-based sample of adolescents (n = 600) and, for a random 50% of participating youth, their mothers (n = 300) in an emerging immigrant destination in suburban Atlanta. Findings will identify the timing and targets of culture-specific policies, programs, and community cultural supports that can enhance existing family-based interventions for Latino youth, the fastest growing segment of the U.S. school population.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
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Psychosocial Development, Risk and Prevention Study Section (PDRP)
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Esposito, Layla E
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George Washington University
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Public Health
United States
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