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Substance use among urban youth of color: Exploring the role of community-based predictors, ethnic identity, and intrapersonal psychological empowerment

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Abstract

Objective: Advances in the etiology of substance use in ethnic minority youth over the last 30 years have not adequately addressed factors and conditions that protect youth from substance use. This research has also failed to consider the impact of ethnic identity and empowerment-based processes among urban youth of color. The aim of the present study was to uncover, first, the mediating effect of ethnic identity between community-based predictors (e.g., community participation and neighborhood sense of community) and 30-day substance use, and second, the mediating effect of intrapersonal psychological empowerment (PE) between ethnic identity and 30-day substance use. Method: Data were from a sample (N = 1,480) of African-American/Black (30.4%) and Hispanic/Latinx (59.1%) urban adolescents, who were largely female (61%) and between 16 and 18 years of age (70.5%). Main analytic procedures were carried out through AMOS structural equation modeling software. Results: Results from this study displayed the importance of ethnic identity and PE as mechanisms associated with reducing 30-day substance use. Both PE and ethnic identity mediated the effect community-based predictors had in reducing 30-day substance use. In addition, PE was observed to also mediate the effect between ethnic identity and 30-day substance use, providing insight into the relationship between ethnic identity and PE. Conclusion: The salience of ethnic identity and PE as mechanisms associated with reducing 30-day substance use are discussed. In addition, findings provide useful insight into the development of youth- and community-based prevention policies and programming to help reduce substance use and empower adolescents of color. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
Substance Use Among Urban Youth of Color: Exploring the Role of
Community-Based Predictors, Ethnic Identity, and Intrapersonal
Psychological Empowerment
David T. Lardier Jr.
The University of New Mexico
Objective: Advances in the etiology of substance use in ethnic minority youth over the last 30 years have
not adequately addressed factors and conditions that protect youth from substance use. This research has
also failed to consider the impact of ethnic identity and empowerment-based processes among urban
youth of color. The aim of the present study was to uncover, first, the mediating effect of ethnic identity
between community-based predictors (e.g., community participation and neighborhood sense of com-
munity) and 30-day substance use, and second, the mediating effect of intrapersonal psychological
empowerment (PE) between ethnic identity and 30-day substance use. Method: Data were from a sample
(N1,480) of African-American/Black (30.4%) and Hispanic/Latinx (59.1%) urban adolescents, who
were largely female (61%) and between 16 and 18 years of age (70.5%). Main analytic procedures were
carried out through AMOS structural equation modeling software. Results: Results from this study
displayed the importance of ethnic identity and PE as mechanisms associated with reducing 30-day
substance use. Both PE and ethnic identity mediated the effect community-based predictors had in
reducing 30-day substance use. In addition, PE was observed to also mediate the effect between ethnic
identity and 30-day substance use, providing insight into the relationship between ethnic identity and PE.
Conclusion: The salience of ethnic identity and PE as mechanisms associated with reducing 30-day
substance use are discussed. In addition, findings provide useful insight into the development of youth-
and community-based prevention policies and programming to help reduce substance use and empower
adolescents of color.
Keywords: empowerment, substance use, ethnic identity, psychological empowerment, urban youth
Over the past two decades, overall substance use trends have
steadily declined, with results from the Monitoring the Future
Survey revealing that rates among adolescents are “holding
steady at the lowest levels in over two decades” (National
Institute on Drug Abuse, 2017, p. 1). Nonetheless, drug and
alcohol use remain a significant social problem in the United
States (Office of the National Drug Control Policy, 2015).
Youth of color living in the United States’ vulnerable urban
communities are particularly disadvantaged, as they tend to use
drugs and alcohol at disproportionate rates when compared with
that of their non-Hispanic White counterparts, progress from
use to dependence faster, and experience a longer duration of
use (Keyes et al., 2015). This may suggest that ongoing pre-
vention efforts targeted in communities of color have had
less-than-desirable effects given the increased number of access
points to drugs and alcohol (Jennings et al., 2014;Reid,
Hughey, & Peterson, 2003) and minimal access to quality
prevention and intervention services (Halpern, Barker, & Mol-
lard, 2000;Lardier, Barrios, Garcia-Reid, & Reid, 2018).
Notable longitudinal investigations have shown significant vari-
ation in substance use based on race/ethnicity (e.g., Chen &
Jacobson, 2012) and gender (e.g., Keyes et al., 2015). For instance,
longitudinal studies indicate that young adults of color in the
United States are more likely to experience legal and social/
interpersonal problems related to use (Witbrodt, Mulia, Zemore, &
Kerr, 2014), arrest and incarceration (Ramchand, Pacula, & Iguchi,
2006), and associated long-term health effects (Volkow, Baler,
Compton, & Weiss, 2014). These negative ramifications are often
more pronounced among men of color when compared with
women of color (Keyes et al., 2015). Furthermore, studies have
also noted that although levels of substance use tend to be higher
and increase during adolescence and into early adulthood among
youth of color, there is a significant decrease among these young
adults after Age 30 when compared with their non-Hispanic White
counterparts (Chen & Jacobson, 2012). Yet, these racial/ethnic
minority young adults tend to experience more long-term negative
health-related outcomes because of health disparities related to
This research was supported by U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration,
Center for Substance Abuse Prevention Grant SP-15104. The author thanks
Robert J. Reid, Professor of Family Science and Human Development,
Montclair State University, for leading data collection and providing feed-
back for this article. The author also thanks Jonathan Caspi and Brad van
Eeden-Moorefield for their preliminary review and thoughtful feedback.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to David T.
Lardier, Jr., Department of Individual, Family, and Community Education,
Family and Child Studies Program, College of Education, The University
of New Mexico, Simpson Hall, Room 131, MSC05 3040, 1 University of
New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131. E-mail: dlardier@unm.edu
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Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology
© 2019 American Psychological Association 2019, Vol. 25, No. 1, 91–103
1099-9809/19/$12.00 http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/cdp0000237
91
accessing quality health care (Guerrero, Marsh, Khachikian,
Amaro, & Vega, 2013).
These findings, taken together, show that urban youth of color
are negatively affected by substance use and tend to experience
harsher consequences associated with substance use. Isolation
from accessing supportive—and quality—prevention–intervention
services meant to mitigate substance use (Lardier, Barrios, et al.,
2018), as well as limited funding for youth to access quality
prevention and treatment services, amplifies these negative out-
comes (Baum & Fisher, 2014;Ginwright, 2015;Halpern et al.,
2000). Although it would be negligent to suggest that strides have
not been made in prevention programming and research over the
past 30 years, African-American/Black and Hispanic/Latinx youth
continue to remain on the losing end of much prevention program-
ming (Lardier, Barrios, et al., 2018).
Current substance use prevention programming and research fail
to consider the cultural wealth of the community (Ayón, Baldwin,
Umaña-Taylor, Marsiglia, & Harthun, 2016) and rely upon chang-
ing behaviors as opposed to engaging those affected by health
disparities in prevention programming and empowering these in-
dividuals to work collectively toward facilitating systemic social
change (Baum & Fisher, 2014). Moreover, despite prevention
research providing useful and insightful recommendations for sub-
stance use prevention practitioners working with racial/ethnic mi-
nority urban youth (e.g., Arthur, Hawkins, Pollard, Catalano, &
Baglioni, 2002;Egan, Van Horn, Monahan, Arthur, & Hawkins,
2012;Hawkins, Catalano, & Miller, 1992;Vaughan, Gassman,
Jun, & Seitz de Martinez, 2015), many of these investigations
highlight the “at risk”—as Kirshner (2015) denotes, “a proxy in
urban contexts for poor [African-American]/Black and [Hispanic]/
Latinx youth who are in need of intervention” (p. 163)—and
disruptive environments in which these adolescents live. As a
consequence, such studies have perpetuated negative stereotypes
about urban youth, limiting the effectiveness of substance use
prevention programming (Paiva, Amoyal, Johnson, & Prochaska,
2014). More recent research has added that work in youth preven-
tion needs to take a more critical approach than is offered in
frameworks of positive youth development and resiliency, which
focus on intrinsic strengths while not necessarily unpacking the
social realties that make such processes difficult to achieve (At-
kinson, Chico, & Horn, 2016;Lardier, Herr, Garcia-Reid, & Reid,
2018). To both mitigate use and bring about social change, sub-
stance use prevention research needs to understand the ways in
which youth can be empowered to engage in broader collective
efforts (Lardier, 2018;Peterson & Reid, 2003;Reid, Forenza,
Lardier, & Garcia-Reid, 2017).
The substance use disparities among youth of color can no
longer continue. Prevention programs and researchers are called to
consider alternative ways of engaging in substance use prevention.
Such work and scholarship must focus on the sociocultural wealth
of urban youth of color and their communities (Lardier, Garcia-
Reid, & Reid, 2018), which would help transcend “risk”-focused
substance use prevention research that perpetuates a problematized
view of youth of color. Recent investigations that have engaged in
such work have highlighted that a perceived connection to one’s
community (i.e., neighborhood sense of community [SOC]) and
engagement in community participation (i.e., civic engagement)
positively affects one’s racial/ethnic group connection (Anglin,
Johnson-Pynn, & Johnson, 2012;Sanchez, Whittaker, Hamilton,
& Arango, 2017), which increases one’s perceived psychological
empowerment (PE) and reduces youths’ substance-using behavior
(Christens & Peterson, 2012;Garcia-Reid, Hamme Peterson, Reid,
& Peterson, 2013;Hipolito-Delgado & Zion, 2017;Lardier, 2018;
Lardier, Reid, & Garcia-Reid, 2018a;Reid et al., 2017). Hence,
this study builds upon the existing research, through empower-
ment, and further highlights the relationship that community par-
ticipation and neighborhood SOC have in predicting ethnic iden-
tity, intrapersonal PE, and 30-day substance use, which is largely
understudied (Lardier, 2018;Peterson, 2014).
Literature Review
Empowerment provides a promising framework for understand-
ing the processes and outcomes of youth substance use in the
sociopolitical domain (Christens & Peterson, 2012;Lardier, 2018).
Empowerment is developed through culturally focused groups,
activities, and contexts, and as Zimmerman (2000) defined, em-
powerment focuses on “enhancing wellness instead of fixing prob-
lems, identifying strengths instead of cataloging ‘risk’ factors, and
searching for environmental influences instead of blaming vic-
tims” (p. 44). Empowerment also highlights the vast array and
types of communal funds of knowledge that both help an individ-
ual navigate their social environment and provide bridges to ad-
ditional resources meant to empower youth and increase positive
life futures (Christens, 2012). This perspective focuses on the
cultural wealth and resources that are often overlooked by preven-
tion specialists.
Empowerment also includes both empowerment processes and
empowerment outcomes (Zimmerman, 2000). The dialectical re-
lationship between empowerment processes—wherein one at-
tempts to develop control, obtain resources, and critically under-
stand one’s environment—and empowerment outcomes—which
are the consequences of citizens’ abilities to gain control over their
community— contextualizes the ways in which youth may engage
in community-based activities toward social change and, in turn,
experience not only reduced substance-using behaviors but also
greater ethnic identity and empowerment (Lardier, 2018;Lardier,
Garcia-Reid, et al., 2018). This idea highlights that community
connection, supportive activities, and access to community-based
youth organizations can increase empowerment and, in turn, well-
ness (Christens & Peterson, 2012;Lardier, 2018). Empowered
persons therefore experience greater personal wellness as a con-
sequence of increased ethnic group attachment and a personal
competence to exert control over the conditions affecting their
lives (i.e., PE; Lardier, 2018). Beyond empowerment processes
and outcomes, empowerment, although encompassing three inter-
dependent subcategories (e.g., community, organization, and psy-
chological), has been largely theorized at the psychological level
as a latent construct with intrapersonal, interactional, and behav-
ioral components (Christens & Peterson, 2012;Lardier et al.,
2018a;Zimmerman, 2000). Much of the empowerment literature
has examined PE through the intrapersonal component, which
refers to perceptions of control, an active approach to living, an
awareness of the sociopolitical system (Lardier et al., 2018a;
Peterson, 2014;Peterson, Peterson, Agre, Christens, & Morton,
2011), and community members’ abilities to cope (Christens,
Peterson, & Speer, 2011). Studies examining intrapersonal PE,
including the current investigation, have done so through a con-
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92 LARDIER
sideration of sociopolitical control, which is measured using the
Sociopolitical Control Scale (SPCS), developed by Zimmerman
and Zahniser (1991).
Sociopolitical control is theorized as a construct of self-efficacy,
motivation, competence, and perceived control (Zimmerman &
Zahniser, 1991). Studies theorizing and empirically testing PE,
through the perspective of sociopolitical control, have found that
PE is achieved through participation in community-based activities
(Lardier, 2018), such as substance use prevention programs (see
Peterson & Reid, 2003;Reid et al., 2017) and working with others
toward a collective or common goal (Christens & Lin, 2014;
Lardier, Garcia-Reid, et al., 2018;Zimmerman, 2000). Individuals
with a greater SOC and who participate in more community
change activities tend to experience higher PE and a have a lower
probability of substance use (Christens & Peterson, 2012;Reid et
al., 2017). For instance, Peterson, Speer, and Peterson (2011)
found that urban youth with greater perceptions of PE participated
in their community and schools and were less likely to use sub-
stances. Elsewhere, health education studies have identified the
critical role PE plays in reducing tobacco use and engaging in
tobacco use prevention (Holden, Crankshaw, Nimsch, Hinnant, &
Hund, 2004;Holden, Evans, Hinnant, & Messeri, 2005) as well as
in reducing substance-using behavior overall (Christens & Peter-
son, 2012;Ozer & Schotland, 2011). More recent studies have
similarly found that higher composite scores of PE are associated
with ethnic identity, community participation, neighborhood SOC
(Lardier, 2018), components of cognitive empowerment (Chris-
tens, Byrd, Peterson, & Lardier, 2018;Lardier et al., 2018a), and
perceived risk of using substances among urban youth of color
(Lardier, Garcia-Reid, et al., 2018). Despite such work, little is
known about the relationship PE has with neighborhood SOC,
community participation, ethnic identity, and substance-using be-
havior (Lardier, Garcia-Reid, et al., 2018). Hence, this study will
put forward an alternative way of understanding and approaching
substance use prevention.
Community Participation and Neighborhood Sense
of Community
Community participation is theorized as the behavioral compo-
nent of PE (Speer & Peterson, 2000) or active participation in the
community (Christens et al., 2011). Community participation re-
fers to how citizens are empowered to take control over the
conditions affecting their lives (Christens et al., 2011), such as
writing a letter to a newspaper or improving the physical condi-
tions of the environment (e.g., beautification projects such as
community gardens; Christens et al., 2011). As early as the 1970s,
studies highlighted the importance of community participation in
perceived self-competence, self-efficacy, active citizenry, and de-
creased alienation (Zurcher, 1970). Recent investigations have
corroborated such findings and have suggested that active and
involved community members engage with persons who have
similar beliefs and interests in making positive community
changes, and that these individuals experience greater social in-
clusion and report more efficacious and competent behaviors
(Christens et al., 2011;Reid et al., 2017).
Neighborhood SOC is also an important construct in the em-
powerment process and is theorized as both a construct and value
that “captures the complex and subtle social processes, which lead
to cohesive and supportive communities” (Cantillona, Davidson,
& Schweitzer, 2003, p. 324). Neighborhood SOC is further defined
as perceived feelings of belongingness and a shared belief that
community members will meet one another’s needs through these
relationships (McMillan & Chavis, 1986). McMillan and Chavis
(1986) further outlined four dimensions of neighborhood SOC: (a)
membership—feelings of belongingness or relatedness to the com-
munity; (b) influence—the perception of making a difference in
the group; (c) needs fulfillment—the perception that members will
meet one another’s needs and that resources will be shared through
these relationships; and (d) emotional connection—a shared emo-
tional connection, through history or common places. Scholars
agree that neighborhood SOC positively affects communities and
individuals and plays an important role in well-being and empow-
ering processes (Forenza & Lardier, 2017a,2017b;Lardier et al.,
2018a).
Adolescents attached to their communities tend to be highly
satisfied with their neighborhoods and place value on their com-
munity to contribute to it collectively (Lardier, Garcia-Reid, et al.,
2018;Nowell & Boyd, 2014). Although these processes are rela-
tional in nature (Christens, 2012), it is not unreasonable to con-
clude, based on the accumulated knowledge on community par-
ticipation and neighborhood SOC, that the confluence of positive
community participatory experiences shapes individual behavior
and perceptions (Christens & Lin, 2014;Zimmerman, 2000), and
that developing a strong neighborhood SOC is related to one’s
action, which influences one’s perceived community value and the
level of participation within the community (Nowell & Boyd,
2014). Furthermore, community participation and neighborhood
SOC affect youths’ ethnic group attachment, which has been found
to limit participation in negative social networks (Elfassi, Braun-
Lewensohn, Krumer-Nevo, & Sagy, 2016), augment youths’ over-
all perceived PE (Christens & Lin, 2014;Lardier, 2018), reduce
youths’ likelihood of using drugs and alcohol (Garcia-Reid et al.,
2013;Lardier, Barrios, et al., 2018), and increase youths’ desire to
engage in prosocial community activities (e.g., substance use pre-
vention; Reid et al., 2017). Hence, community participation and
neighborhood SOC limit the probability that underresourced urban
youth may engage in negative outcome behaviors (e.g., sexual risk
taking and substance use; Hamme Peterson, Buser, & Westburg,
2010). Yet, it is important to note that urban youth often have less
access to structures and resources that allow for community par-
ticipation, making it imperative to connect these youth with orga-
nizations and to racially/ethnically similar adult mentors, who can
enhance community participation, community belongingness, PE,
ethnic identity, and limit substance-using behaviors (Hipolito-
Delgado & Zion, 2017;Lardier, Garcia-Reid, et al., 2018). None-
theless, the accumulated evidence shows the important relationship
between community participation and neighborhood SOC.
Ethnic Identity, Community Participation,
Neighborhood SOC, and Substance Use
With an eye toward expanding substance use and empowerment
research, and effectively understanding PE, the next two sections
examine the relationship ethnic identity has to community partic-
ipation, neighborhood SOC, substance use, and, lastly, PE. Few
studies have examined the intersection of these variables (notable
exceptions include Lardier, 2018, and Lardier, Garcia-Reid, et al.,
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93
SUBSTANCE USE AMONG URBAN YOUTH OF COLOR
2018). This is fascinating, as community participation and neigh-
borhood SOC (Lardier, 2018;Lardier, Garcia-Reid, et al., 2018;
Molix & Bettencourt, 2010) are focused through a more solidified
racial/ethnic identity, which positively affects outcomes among
racial/ethnic minority urban youth, such as reduced substance-
using behavior (Rivas-Drake, 2012;Rivas-Drake et al., 2014) and
empowerment (Lardier, 2018;Lardier, Garcia-Reid, et al., 2018).
Ethnic identity is defined as a form of social group identity, a
part of the individual’s self-concept, and/or “a sense of people-
hood” within a group or culture (Phinney & Ong, 2007). Ethnic
identity does not solely concern self-labeling but also identifica-
tion, belongingness, and commitment to one’s ethnic group (Phin-
ney & Ong, 2007). During adolescence, ethnic identity develop-
ment is associated with increased meaning making and positive
psychosocial and mental health functioning (Rivas-Drake et al.,
2014). Researchers argue that positive ethnic identity development
(e.g., belongingness and shared beliefs) is especially beneficial for
youth of color, as it mediates the relationship among neighborhood
SOC, community participation, and substance use (Anglin et al.,
2012;Garcia-Reid et al., 2013).
Ethnic identity researchers have discussed that through group
membership and shared experiences (Phinney & Ong, 2007), his-
tory, culture, and ethnic origin, individuals are likely to develop a
stronger neighborhood SOC and connection to their ethnic/cultural
group (Rivas-Drake, 2012). Participation with like racial/ethnic
cultural groups also increases both African-American/Black and
Hispanic/Latinx youths’ civic action, neighborhood SOC, and eth-
nic group identity (Anglin et al., 2012;Garcia-Reid et al., 2013;
Sanchez et al., 2017). Youth involved in community activities with
their cultural group also develop a stronger sense of purpose,
greater self-esteem (Christens, Winn, & Duke, 2016;Peterson,
Peterson, et al., 2011), ethnic group connectedness, and reduced
probability of engaging in drug and alcohol use (Anglin et al.,
2012;Garcia-Reid et al., 2013;Lardier, 2018;Lardier, Garcia-
Reid, et al., 2018). Studies have also displayed the important
mediating effect of ethnic identity between predictors such as
self-esteem, social support, and community perceptions such as
social disorganizations and negative outcome behaviors including
substance use (Garcia-Reid et al., 2013). Based on the existing
research, ethnic identity is predicted to mediate the relationship
that community participation and neighborhood SOC have with
substance use.
Ethnic Identity, Psychological Empowerment, and
Substance Use
Although studies have started to examine the relationship be-
tween ethnic identity and related empowerment processes (e.g.,
community participation, neighborhood SOC), few have investi-
gated the relationship between ethnic identity, PE, and substance
use. This is notwithstanding the important theoretical and growing
empirical relationships between and among these processes and
outcomes. Nonetheless, the existing research argues for the critical
role of ethnic identity in promoting PE and both directly and
indirectly reducing substance use among urban youth (Garcia-Reid
et al., 2013;Gullan, Power, & Leff, 2013;Gutiérrez, 1995;
Hipolito-Delgado & Zion, 2017;Lardier, 2018;Lardier, Garcia-
Reid, et al., 2018).
Over a decade ago, researchers emphasized that for individuals
to feel empowered and engaged in positive social change (e.g.,
community substance use prevention activities), they must develop
a connection to their cultural group (Gutiérrez, 1995), which, in
turn, through the collective, promotes aspects of PE (e.g., leader-
ship and self-efficacy; Peterson & Reid, 2003). More recent in-
vestigations have corroborated these findings and presented the
important associations between the collective, ethnic group iden-
tity, PE, and overall well-being (Gullan et al., 2013;Hipolito-
Delgado & Zion, 2017). For example, Molix and Bettencourt
(2010) found that ethnic identity was an important process that
predicted both PE and youth well-being, and that PE mediated
these effects longitudinally; this finding provides preliminary ev-
idence on the positive long-term effects of PE among racial/ethnic
minority youth. Elsewhere, studies have displayed among urban
youth of color both the mediating influence of ethnic identity
between community-based predictors and substance use (Garcia-
Reid et al., 2013), as well as the mediating effect of PE between
supportive relationships and “risk behaviors” (e.g., substance use,
violent behavior; Christens & Peterson, 2012). Even more re-
cently, Lardier (2018) showed that not only did community par-
ticipation and neighborhood SOC directly predict PE— ethnic
identity also mediated the relationship between these variables and
had a direct effect on PE. Building upon this work, Lardier et al.
(2018a) also highlighted that youth with higher composite scores
of both PE and ethnic identity reported greater perceived risk of
using substances, neighborhood SOC, and community participa-
tion.
Taken together, these studies, although limited, point toward the
relationship between PE and ethnic identity, and the important role
PE and ethnic identity have in reducing substance use. Yet, addi-
tional research is needed to further uncover the effects between
ethnic identity, PE, and substance use (Christens, Peterson, Reid,
& Garcia-Reid, 2015;Lardier, 2018;Peterson, 2014). In addition,
the specific role that empowerment plays in reducing youth sub-
stance use remains vaguely understood (Peterson, 2014).
Purpose and Hypotheses
To summarize, the presented studies support the relationship
between community participation, neighborhood SOC, ethnic
identity, and substance use, as well as the association these con-
structs have with youth PE. Yet more research is needed that
examines both the mediating effect of ethnic identity between
community participation, neighborhood SOC, and substance use,
and the still not-well-understood relationship that ethnic identity
has with PE and substance use. This study builds upon the existing
research in the empowerment literature that acknowledges ethnic
identity as a mediating variable between community-based per-
ceptions on outcomes, such as substance use (Garcia-Reid et al.,
2013;Lardier, 2018;Rivas-Drake et al., 2014). The study also
considers the relationship between ethnic identity and PE (Lardier,
Garcia-Reid, et al., 2018;Molix & Bettencourt, 2010), as well as
PE as a mediating variable in reducing substance use (Christens &
Peterson, 2012;Christens et al., 2015).
Two research questions were generated based on the extant
literature: (a) Does ethnic identity mediate the relationship among
community participation, neighborhood SOC, and substance use,
as well as PE?; and (b) Does PE mediate the relationship among
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94 LARDIER
community participation, neighborhood SOC, and 30-day sub-
stance use, as well as the relationship among ethnic identity and
30-day substance use? From these research questions, two hypoth-
eses were generated (see Figure 1 for the hypothesized path
model):
Hypothesis 1: Ethnic identity is hypothesized to perform as a
mediator between community participation, neighborhood
SOC, 30-day substance use, and PE.
Hypothesis 2: Psychological empowerment is predicted to
mediate the relationship between ethnic identity and 30-day
substance use, as well as the relationship between community
participation, neighborhood SOC, and 30-day substance use.
Results provide important thoughts for substance use prevention
and how to engage youth as practitioners in prevention.
Method
Sample and Design
Data collected for this study were part of a larger comprehensive
needs assessment within a northeastern U.S. urban school district,
which helped inform environmental strategies and prevention–
intervention protocols within the target community. A convenience
sample of students (N1,639) was recruited from all physical
education and health classes in Grades 9 through 12 from the
largest high school in the focal city. This allowed all students who
attended school an equal opportunity to participate. Students who
returned both parental consent and student assent forms were
eligible to complete the survey.
The original sample of students (N1,639), which was largely
African-American/Black (30.4%) and Hispanic/Latinx (59.1%),
was delimited to represent only African-American/Black (n
551; 37.8%) and Hispanic/Latinx (n929; 62.8%) youth, for a
total sample of 1,480 adolescents. This was done to fill gaps in the
current substance use (see Finlay, White, Mun, Cronley, & Lee,
2012) and empowerment (see Peterson, 2014) literature, which
have failed to capture the lived experiences of African-American/
Black and Hispanic/Latinx youth. Students in the delimited sample
were mostly female (61%), between 16 and 18 years of age
(70.5%), and in the free or reduced lunch program (68%), a proxy
for low socioeconomic status. Students were near-evenly distrib-
uted between 9th (25.6%), 10th (23.9%), 11th (26.3%), and 12th
(24.2%) grades. Furthermore, 45% of the sample disclosed using
drugs or alcohol at least 1 day during the previous 30 days before
surveying.
Measurement
The student questionnaire was a 184-question, paper-and-
pencil-based survey that assessed various outcome behaviors
based on measures from the Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance
Survey (YRBSS; e.g., 30-day substance use, sexually risky behav-
ior; Kann et al., 2014). The survey also assessed empowerment-
based measures (e.g., PE, neighborhood SOC, and community
participation) and ethnic identity. Five measures were included in
the current analysis. Table 1 provides descriptive statistics, asso-
ciated alpha levels (Cronbach’s ), and a correlation matrix.
Main Analytic Variables
Neighborhood SOC. Neighborhood SOC was derived from
an eight-item self-report measure based on the Brief Sense of
Community Scale (BSCS) validated by Peterson, Speer, and Mc-
Millan (2008) and originally theorized by McMillan and Chavis
(1986). More recently Lardier, Reid, and Garcia-Reid (2018b)
validated the BSCS among a sample of urban youth of color and
identified support for the factor structure among this cohort of
adolescents (Cronbach’s ␣⫽.85; M3.08, SD .80). This scale
measures four dimensions: (a) needs fulfillment, (b) group mem-
bership, (c) influence, and (d) emotional connection. Participants
responded to items (sample item: “I feel like a member of this
neighborhood”) using a 4-point Likert scale ranging from strongly
disagree (1) to strongly agree (4). Responses were summed to
reflect higher composite scores of neighborhood SOC (Cronbach’s
␣⫽.90; M24.04, SD 9.53).
Community participation. Community participation is a
self-report, five-item measure derived from the Student Survey of
Community
Participation
Ethnic
Identity
Neighborhood
SOC
30-Day
Substance Use
Intrapersonal
PE
+
+
-
-
Figure 1. Hypothesized path model testing mediating effect of ethnic identity and psychological empowerment
on 30-day substance use. SOC sense of community; PE psychological empowerment.
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95
SUBSTANCE USE AMONG URBAN YOUTH OF COLOR
Risk and Protective Factors/Community Participation Scale (Ar-
thur et al., 2002). This measure assessed participation in commu-
nity activities (sample item: “How often do you go to meetings/
engage in activities in your community?”), using a 4-point Likert
scale ranging from never (1) to almost every day (4). Speer and
Peterson (2000) demonstrated support for the reliability of this
scale, and through confirmatory factor analysis identified a single
underlying Participation scale. Responses for the present study
were totaled to reflect greater community participation (Cron-
bach’s ␣⫽.80; M12.73, SD 4.81).
Ethnic identity. The Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure
(MEIM) is a 20-item scale (sample item: “I have spent time trying
to figure out more about my ethnic group”) measuring ethnic
identification and belongingness to a broader group, culture, and
setting (Phinney & Ong, 2007). The MEIM has be used and
validated among a variety of ethnic groups and is considered one
of the most widely used self-report tools for ethnic identity devel-
opment (Phinney & Ong, 2007). Responses were measured using
a 4-point Likert scale ranging from strongly disagree (1) to
strongly agree (4). Scores were totaled by summing responses,
with higher scores reflecting greater identification (Cronbach’s
␣⫽.86; M53.16, SD 10.25).
Intrapersonal psychological empowerment. Intrapersonal
PE was measured using a 17-item scale, referred to as the Socio-
political Control Scale for Youth (SPCS-Y; Lardier et al., 2018a;
Peterson, Peterson, et al., 2011). Responses were recorded using a
5-point Likert scale, ranging from definitely cannot, strongly dis-
agree (1) to definitely can do it, strongly agree (5). Peterson,
Peterson, et al. (2011) illustrated and confirmed the 17-item ver-
sion of the SPCS-Y (overall scale: Cronbach’s ␣⫽.89) as a
two-factor measure that examined Leadership Competence (sam-
ple item: “I am a leader in groups. I can usually organize people to
get things done”; Cronbach’s ␣⫽.81) and Policy Control (sample
item: “There are plenty of ways for people like me to have a say
in what our government does”; Cronbach’s ␣⫽.85). More re-
cently, Lardier et al. (2018a), though finding support for the
original 17-item version of the SPCS-Y, assessed and validated an
abbreviated eight-item version of the SPCS-Y, originally exam-
ined by Christens, Krauss, and Zeldin (2016) among Malaysian
youth. Lardier, Reid, et al. confirmed the abbreviated eight-item
version of the SPCS-Y (Cronbach’s ␣⫽.80; M3.26, SD .66)
as a two-factor measure that examined Leadership Competence
(Cronbach’s ␣⫽.70) and Policy Control (Cronbach’s ␣⫽.69).
However, for the current study, the original eight-item measure of
leadership (Cronbach’s ␣⫽.81; M3.80, SD .73) and
nine-item measure of policy control (Cronbach’s ␣⫽.85; M
3.58, SD .70) were combined, and the mean was taken to reflect
a single intrapersonal PE item (Cronbach’s ␣⫽.88; M3.67,
SD .63).
Thirty-day substance use. Thirty-day substance use (sample
item: “During the past month, on how many days did you smoke
marijuana?; During the past month, on how many days did you use
cocaine/crack?; During the past month, on how many days did you
use an inhalant [e.g., spray paint] to get high?; During the past
month, on how many days did you use prescription medications
without a doctor’s permission?”) and smoking habits (sample item:
“During the past month, on how many days did you smoke
cigarettes? During the past month, on how many days did you
smoke cigars/cigarillos/black and mild cigars? During the past
month, on how many days did you smoke from an electronic
cigarette?”) was assessed using a 14-item measure based on ques-
tions from the YRBSS (Kann et al., 2014). Response options
ranged from 0 days (0) to all 30 days (6). Consistent with previous
research within the empowerment literature, a mean was calculated
(e.g., Christens & Peterson, 2012;Garcia-Reid et al., 2013). Re-
sponses ranged from 1.00 to 6.00, with 6.00 representing the use of
substances during all 30 days previous to being surveyed (Cron-
bach’s ␣⫽.94). Youth disclosed an overall lower mean rate of
30-day substance use (M1.64, SD .77), which is not atypical
when considering that previous investigations have observed sim-
ilarly lower mean responses and continued to identify significant
and important findings (e.g., Christens & Peterson, 2012;Garcia-
Reid et al., 2013). Thirty-day substance use was also highly
skewed (4.31) and leptokurtic (9.78). Despite several mechanisms
in place to safeguard against methodological response bias (e.g.,
counterbalancing of questions and using clear and concise lan-
guage), it is not uncommon for youth to either over- or underreport
certain behaviors on more sensitive questions, such as 30-day
substance use (Podsakoff, MacKenzie, & Podsakoff, 2012). Data
transformations were, however, not employed due to analyses
being conducted through AMOS structural equation modeling
(SEM) software, which examines the covariance matrix through
Table 1
Correlations and Descriptive Statistics for Main Variables (N 1,480)
Main analytic variables 1 2 3 4 5 6
1. Intrapersonal psychological empowerment
(measured through SPCS-Y) .33
ⴱⴱ
.14
ⴱⴱ
.21
ⴱⴱ
–.31
ⴱⴱ
.13
ⴱⴱ
2. Ethnic identity .26
ⴱⴱ
.14
ⴱⴱ
–.14
ⴱⴱ
.02
3. Neighborhood SOC .05
.06
–.05
4. Community participation –.34
ⴱⴱ
.06
ⴱⴱ
5. 30-day substance use –.19
ⴱⴱ
6. Gender (females 1) —
M3.67 53.16 24.04 12.73 1.64 .61
SD .63 10.25 9.53 4.81 .77 .48
.88 .86 .90 .80 .94
Skewness –.54 –.56 .24 .34 4.31 –.43
Kurtosis 1.13 .72 –.54 –.45 9.78 –1.82
Note. SPCS-Y Sociopolitical Control Scale for Youth; SOC sense of community.
p.05.
ⴱⴱ
p.01.
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96 LARDIER
maximum-likelihood (ML) estimations and reduces issues with
normality and the impact on parameter estimates (Hancock & Liu,
2012).
Data Analysis Plan
Preliminary analysis. Prior to the main analyses, missing
data were examined. Little’s missing completely at random
(MCAR) test was used to assess the level and type of missingness
(Little & Rubin, 2014), which revealed that these data were most
likely not MCAR,
2
(70) 107.88, p.002. Further inspection
of data revealed that the largest amounts of missing data were
related to 30-day substance use (15%). This is not surprising given
the sensitivity of questions and the likelihood of methodological
response bias (MacKenzie, Podsakoff, & Podsakoff, 2011). Al-
though numerous missing data techniques are available (McGin-
niss & Harel, 2016), missing data were handled using ML estima-
tions through AMOS software (Version 23.0), which addresses the
missing data and parameter estimates, and estimates the standard
error in a single step (Hancock & Liu, 2012). Using AMOS to
handle missing data also allows for a theoretically informed direct
approach to handling missing data through modeling, opposed to
other imputation methods, which can be designated as indirect
(Byrne, 2013).
Following ML estimations for handling missing data, normality,
descriptive statistics, alpha-level reliabilities (Cronbach’s alpha),
and a bivariate correlation matrix were examined. Univariate skew
and kurtosis were within normal distribution ranges, apart from
30-day substance use, which was highly skewed (4.31) and lepto-
kurtic (9.78). No conspicuous outliers were noted. Data were
examined through AMOS SEM software, which examines the
covariance matrix through ML estimations and sidesteps issues
associated with influential outliers that would impact model fit
(Aguinis, Gottfredson, & Joo, 2013) and normality, and limits the
impact on parameter estimates (Hancock & Liu, 2012;Walker &
Smith, 2016). Multicollinearity was also examined. All variables
were within the designated parameter ranges for variance inflation
factor (10) and tolerance (0.2; Field, 2013).
Main analytic procedures. Main analytic procedures were
carried out through AMOS SEM software using path analysis
techniques and ML procedures (Arbuckle, 2013). The presented
path model (see Figure 2) examined the direct and indirect effect
that community participation and neighborhood SOC had on 30-
day substance through both ethnic identity and PE as well as the
direct and indirect effect of community participation and neigh-
borhood SOC on PE through ethnic identity. An important advan-
tage of conducting mediation analyses in SEM over standard
regression methods is that SEM analyses provide model fit infor-
mation about the consistency of the hypothesized mediational
model to the data and evidence of the plausibility of the causality
assumptions made when constructing the mediation model (Gun-
zler, Chen, Wu, & Zhang, 2013;Imai, Keele, & Tingley, 2010).
Mediation was tested using the test of joint significance (TJS),
which has been found to have the best balance of statistical power
while also reducing Type I error (Mallinckrodt, Abraham, Wei, &
Russell, 2006). The TJS requires that only the predictor to medi-
ator (a) and mediator to outcome (b) be statistically significant
(Leth-Steensen & Gallitto, 2016). When these paths are statisti-
cally significant, an indirect effect is present. The strength of the
mediating effects are difficult to determine; therefore, the decom-
pensation of effects were examined to better understand the effect
of the predictor variable on the outcome, through a mediating
variable (Ditlevsen, Christensen, Lynch, Damsgaard, & Keiding,
2005).
Model fit was assessed using several indices. These included the
chi-square test, the comparative fit index (CFI), the goodness of fit
index (GFI), Adjusted Goodness of Fit Index (AGFI), and the root
mean square error of approximation (RMSEA; West, Taylor, &
Wei, 2012). Several rules are in place to assess indices. First,
nonsignificant chi-square values indicate acceptable model fit.
Second, higher values (i.e., .95) on the CFI, AGFI, and GFI, and
Community
Participation
Ethnic
Identity
Neighborhood
SOC
30-Day
Substance Use
Intrapersonal
PE
.61*
R2=.22
R2= .10
R2=.16
.12***
-.13***
Gender
-.16***
.11**
-.14***
Figure 2. Unconstrained path model testing mediating effect of ethnic identity and psychological empower-
ment on 30-day substance use (N1,480). Model fit statistics:
2
(1) 1.36, p.24; RMSEA .02, GFI
.99, AGFI .99, CFI .99. Standardized parameter estimates reported. SOC sense of community; PE
psychological empowerment.
p.05.
ⴱⴱ
p.01.
ⴱⴱⴱ
p.001.
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97
SUBSTANCE USE AMONG URBAN YOUTH OF COLOR
smaller values (i.e., .08) on the RMSEA, are desirable. For the
RMSEA, values that are less than or equal to .05 are considered a
good fit, .05 to .08 are an acceptable fit, and .08 to .10 are an
unacceptable fit (West et al., 2012). These fit assessments were
used as path models are generated. Bollen-Stine bootstrap proce-
dures, with 6,000 bootstrap resamples, were also used, given the
presence of non-normal data (Bollen & Stine, 1992;Walker &
Smith, 2016). Bollen-Stine bootstrap results with a pvalue greater
than .05 indicate that the proposed model is consistent with the
sample data (Walker & Smith, 2016).
Initially, gender, age, African-American/Black racial identity,
and Hispanic/Latinx ethnic identity were included in analyses, due
to previous empirical findings on 30-day substance use, PE, and
ethnic identity indicating differences between groups based on
racial/ethnic identity, age, and gender (e.g., Christens & Peterson,
2012;Lardier, 2018). Results showed some variation related to
gender. Statistically significant differences were found between PE
and gender,
2
(139) 153.28, p.01, ethnic identity and gender,
2
(319) 619.58, p.001, and 30-day substance use and gender,
2
(493) 736.88, p.001. No significant differences were found
between African-American/Black racial identity and the main an-
alytic variables, between Hispanic/Latinx ethnic identity and the
main analytic variables, or between participant age and the main
analytic variables. Based on these results, gender was retained as
a control variable.
Results
Preliminary Results
Correlations and descriptive statistics of scale variables for the
full study sample are reported in Table 1. All main study variables
for the full sample of adolescents were correlated. Correlations
ranged from low (.1) to moderate (.3; Field, 2013). For exam-
ple, the correlation between 30-day substance use and PE was
moderately and negatively correlated. Gender was retained as a
control.
Main Analytic Results
Figure 2 provides the overidentified path model, with standard-
ized regression weights reported. This model examined the direct
and indirect effects of community participation and neighborhood
SOC through ethnic identity on PE and 30-day substance use. This
model displayed good overall model fit for the sample data,
2
(4) 1.36, p.24; RMSEA .02, GFI .99, AGFI .99,
CFI .99, and accounted for 10% of the variability in ethnic
identity, 16% of the variability in PE, and 22% of the variability in
30-day substance use. Bollen-Stine bootstrap results displayed that
the pvalue was greater than .05 (p.23), providing evidence that
the proposed model is consistent with the data (Bollen & Stine,
1992;Walker & Smith, 2016). Findings from the main analytic
path model (see Figure 2) supported, overall, the presented hy-
potheses and hypothesized path model (see Figure 1).
Community participation and neighborhood SOC had signifi-
cant and positive direct effects on ethnic identity. Adolescents who
engaged in more community-based activities and had a stronger
neighborhood SOC displayed higher composite scores of ethnic
identity. Community participation also had a positive direct effect
on PE and a negative direct effect on 30-day substance use. These
results demonstrate that youth who participated in more positive
community-based activities reported high composite scores of PE
and were less likely to engage in 30-day substance use. Interest-
ingly, although neighborhood SOC had a positive direct effect on
PE, it had no direct effect on 30-day substance use. This outcome
underscores that youth with greater community belongingness
experienced greater perceived leadership and self-efficacy toward
making changes within their community (i.e., PE).
Significant indirect effects were also present. Table 2 provide
the indirect effects and the decompensation of effects. Community
participation had an indirect effect on 30-day substance use
through both ethnic identity and PE. The decompensation of ef-
fects indicated that given the ratio of the indirect effect, .02,
through both ethnic identity and PE, to the total effect of .34,
both ethnic identity and PE mediated roughly 6% of the overall
total effect that community participation had on 30-day substance
use. This highlights that community participation had a stronger
overall direct effect on 30-day substance use than through both
ethnic identity and PE. Neighborhood SOC also had an indirect
effect on 30-day substance use through ethnic identity and PE. The
decomposition of effects showed that 57% of the total effect that
neighborhood SOC had on 30-day substance use was through
ethnic identity versus 14% of the effect through PE. However, PE
mediated 31% of the total effect that ethnic identity had on 30-day
substance use.
Significant mediating effects were also present on PE through
ethnic identity. For instance, community participation had an in-
direct effect on PE through ethnic identity, with the decompensa-
tion of effects indicating that ethnic identity mediated 31% of the
Table 2
Decomposition of Effects for Models 1 and 2
Criterion variable Predictor variable Total effect Direct effect
Indirect effect via
Ratio of indirect to
total effect
Ethnic identity PE Ethnic identity PE
Substance use CP –.34 –.32 –.02 –.02 .06 .06
Neighborhood SOC –.07 –.04 –.01 .57 .14
Ethnic identity –.13 –.13 –.04 .31
Intrapersonal PE CP .13 .12 .04 .31
Neighborhood SOC .14 .10 .08 .57
Ethnic identity .29 .29
Note.PEpsychological empowerment; CP community participation; SOC neighborhood sense of community.
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98 LARDIER
effect that community participation had on PE. Similarly, neigh-
borhood SOC had an indirect effect on PE through ethnic identity.
The decompensation of effects illustrated that ethnic identity ac-
counted for 57% of the total effect that neighborhood SOC had on
PE. Overall, results provide preliminary evidence for the important
mediating influence of ethnic identity and PE based on the TJS as
well as the direct effects that community participation and neigh-
borhood SOC have on both augmenting ethnic identity and PE and
reducing 30-day substance use.
Discussion
Although substance use trends have declined over the past
several decades within the United States, urban youth living in our
most vulnerable communities are particularly disadvantaged.
These youth are subject to a myriad of oppressive circumstances
that isolate them from accessing quality prevention–intervention
services. This reality is compounded by the limited effectiveness
and often culturally unresponsiveness of prevention–intervention
programming (Paiva et al., 2014), distorted funding priorities that
highlight treatment over prevention and evidence-based interven-
tions (Baum & Fisher, 2014), and the “at-risk” perspectives of
substance use research among urban youth of color (Kirshner,
2015;Lardier, Barrios, et al., 2018;Lardier, Herr, et al., 2018).
Empowerment theory is a unique and needed perspective for
understanding and decreasing drug and alcohol use, and promoting
strengths, community participation, neighborhood SOC, and eth-
nic identity. Through this lens, youth—and their community en-
vironments—are visualized as culturally wealthy, particularly
when community organizations and programs as well as important
ethnic group connections are present, which can help reduce iso-
lation and offset the probability of substance use. Despite the
importance of examining substance use and discussing prevention
through empowerment, little is known about the relationship be-
tween community participation, neighborhood SOC, ethnic iden-
tity, PE, and substance use, particularly among racial/ethnic mi-
nority youth (Lardier, 2018;Lardier, Garcia-Reid, et al., 2018;
Peterson, 2014).
First, findings from this study support hypotheses made and
illustrate the mediating role of ethnic identity between community-
based empowerment constructs on 30-day substance use and PE.
More specifically, ethnic identity mediated the effect that commu-
nity participation and neighborhood SOC had on both 30-day
substance use and PE. These results provide preliminary evidence,
and support prior investigations, indicating that community par-
ticipation and supportive community environments positively pro-
mote ethnic identity development (Garcia-Reid et al., 2013;
Hipolito-Delgado & Zion, 2017;Lardier, 2018;Lardier, Garcia-
Reid, et al., 2018), increase youths’ perceived PE (Christens, 2012;
Lardier, 2018;Lardier, Garcia-Reid, et al., 2018), and reduce
substance-using behavior (Anglin et al., 2012). Although a smaller
mediating effect than ethnic identity, results also illustrate the
mediating role of PE between neighborhood SOC, community
participation, and 30-day substance use. Such results support find-
ings from earlier investigations (e.g., Christens & Peterson, 2012;
Garcia-Reid et al., 2013;Lardier, 2018;Lardier, Garcia-Reid, et
al., 2018) that have both illustrated the mediating role of PE, the
connection between PE and ethnic identity, and the critical rela-
tionship community participation and SOC have in reducing sub-
stance use and increasing youths’ PE.
Second, results from this model also display the theoretical path
between both ethnic identity and 30-day substance use and the
mediating effect of PE. In this model, PE mediated 31% of the
effect that ethnic identity had on 30-day substance use. This result
provides preliminary evidence on the theoretical and empirical role
of PE as a mediating construct that reduces substance use among
racial/ethnic minority youth (Christens & Peterson, 2012). Beyond
holding practical significance to the empowerment field, these
findings also indicate that individuals with stronger internalized
perceptions of their ethnic identity may be more likely to experi-
ence empowered ways of thinking and feeling (e.g., leadership and
self-efficacy; Gullan et al., 2013;Hipolito-Delgado & Zion, 2017;
Lardier, 2018;Lardier, Garcia-Reid, et al., 2018). For that reason,
youth who are provided access to community participation activ-
ities and have a strong neighborhood SOC may be more likely to
develop a stronger ethnic identity (Anglin et al., 2012), which
limits perceived feelings of isolation and augments PE and im-
proves healthy and successful life futures (Garcia-Reid et al.,
2013). In addition, youth with stronger associations to their com-
munity, and who take part in more community-based activities,
have more solidified ethnic identities; hence, these youth may be
more connected with their ethnic, cultural, and racial group(s),
which helps limit the probability of substance use and increases
perceived PE.
The relationships identified heretofore point toward the impor-
tance of supportive community environments and positive youth-
based experiences (e.g., ethnic identity development) in promoting
empowerment and reducing substance-using behaviors, forming a
developmental cascade (Christens & Peterson, 2012;Masten &
Cicchetti, 2010). A developmental cascade is defined as “the
cumulative consequences for development of the many interac-
tions and transactions occurring in developing systems that result
in spreading effects across levels, among domains at the same
level, and across different systems or generations” (Masten &
Cicchetti, 2010, p. 491). Although these data are cross-sectional,
findings begin to suggest that to improve outcomes, the quality of
environmental and community supports, and the access youth have
to participatory community activities, need to be considered if we
are to enrich the lives of urban youth of color and increase the
capacity for positive ethnic identity development and PE, and
reduce the propensity for substance use and health inequalities.
Implications for Substance Use Policy and Prevention
To reduce substance use among urban youth of color, findings
from this study remind us that youth development does not solely
include those settings that the multitude of scholarship in adoles-
cent substance use has covered (e.g., families, schools) but also
community experiences and perceptions via community participa-
tion and neighborhood SOC. Results from this study also draw
attention to those experiences specific to racial/ethnic minority
youth, which includes ethnic identity development, and the impact
these positive paths have in enhancing PE and reducing 30-day
substance use. Policymakers are encouraged to increase funding
that allows prevention practitioners to create and maintain youth
prevention organizations in urban locales that allow for both
community participation in prevention programming (Lardier,
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99
SUBSTANCE USE AMONG URBAN YOUTH OF COLOR
Barrios, et al., 2018;Lardier, Herr, et al., 2018;Reid et al., 2017)
and promote engagement with racial/ethnic-like mentors and
peers. Such work would create greater inclusivity, diversity, dem-
ocratic and egalitarian relationships, empowerment, and civic
competence among urban youth of color.
This type of prevention work can be achieved, for example,
through the Drug Free Communities grant program, although more
recently, this funding stream has been targeted for elimination or
reduction by the current U.S. presidential administration (Office of
the National Drug Control Policy, 2017). Nonetheless, the Drug
Free Communities funding and prevention programming enables
prevention practitioners to engage community members and to
consider their collective thoughts and opinions in the design and
implementation of community-driven and culturally responsive
prevention initiatives (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of Amer-
ica, 2010). Through such community-based prevention program-
ming, community members are empowered and provided the op-
portunity and capacity to collectively address community issues
(Reid et al., 2017).
Tailored, targeted, and culturally responsive substance use pre-
vention programming is important, given the heterogeneity within
African-American/Black and Hispanic/Latinx groups. Resnicow,
Baranowski, Ahluwalia, and Braithwaite (1999) argued for the use
of both families and the larger community in developing messag-
ing that is culturally responsive. Community prevention specialists
should therefore engage key stakeholders and youth in the preven-
tion of substance use. For instance, through prevention-based
youth organizing, youth are given the opportunity to take part in
community-based activities with adult mentors to execute commu-
nity change initiatives. This work increases youths’ awareness of
issues in their social environment, provides youth with opportuni-
ties to engage in resource-full relationships, which increases PE
and ethnic identity (Hipolito-Delgado & Zion, 2017;Molix &
Bettencourt, 2010), and limits negative behavioral outcomes such
as substance use (Christens & Peterson, 2012). As a result, these
positive policy and prevention initiatives aid in both short- and
long-term benefits that work toward reducing substance use, de-
creasing health disparities, and augmenting youth ethnic identity
and empowerment.
Limitations
Findings from this study are important for extending the sub-
stance use and empowerment literature; however, results should be
considered with several limitations. First, findings were drawn
from a cross-sectional convenience sample of urban adolescents
from a particular slice of the United States. Although cross-
sectional research is important for designing longitudinal investi-
gations, future research should replicate these findings using lon-
gitudinal data and further unpack the order for which these
variables may be likely associated. For instance, although PE was
theorized and examined as a mediating mechanism within this
study between ethnic identity and 30-day substance use, it is
equally plausible that PE predicts ethnic identity, given prior
research alluding to this very point (e.g., Lardier, Garcia-Reid, et
al., 2018). An equally reasonable order to the variables is 30-day
substance use as an antecedent to community participation, neigh-
borhood SOC, ethnic identity, and PE, and in turn, predicting
negative effects on these variables. Furthermore, ethnic identity
could also be presented as a main predictor on community partic-
ipation and neighborhood SOC, and in turn, increase PE and
reduce 30-day substance use. Therefore, although the temporal
order of variables in this study is reasonable and based on prior
research, future studies would do well to examine findings from
this study using longitudinal data and further examine the temporal
order of these variables.
A second and associated limitation with cross-sectional data
concerns mediation analyses occurring cross-sectionally as op-
posed to longitudinally. Although important mediation results
were identified, future research needs to replicate findings using
mediation analyses longitudinally. Such analyses would help to
uncover developmental processes and further unpack the temporal
order of variables overtime (Kline, 2015).
Third, within-group differences were unexamined for/among
African-American/Black and Hispanic/Latinx adolescents. Given
the heterogeneity of African-American/Black and Hispanic/Latinx
populations, future research should expand upon this limitation
and examine within-group differences. This scholarship would
allow for more culturally responsive substance use prevention and
empowerment research.
Fourth, methodological response bias is more likely to occur
among youth who are responding to sensitive questions, such as
about substance use. Although mean rates of substance use were
lower among this cohort of African-American/Black and Hispanic/
Latinx youth, previous studies have illustrated similarly lower
mean rates of substance use and observed significant and impor-
tant results (Christens & Peterson, 2012;Lardier, Barrios, et al.,
2018). A final limitation concerns the measurement of PE, as it
measures only the intrapersonal aspects of PE (Peterson, 2014). As
a multifaceted construct, future research needs to consider the
theoretical development of empowerment and create more repre-
sentative scales that examine all aspects of PE (i.e., intrapersonal,
interpersonal, behavioral, and relational empowerment).
Conclusion
Despite existing limitations, this study contributes to the current
literature base that considers empowerment, and measures of em-
powerment, as important indicators in understanding and prevent-
ing substance use. Findings from this study display that commu-
nity participation and neighborhood SOC may have an influence in
youth development, particularly ethnic identity development, PE
development, and reductions in substance use. The results from
this study therefore provide an argument for greater involvement
of young people in community prevention. More importantly, this
study moves away from “risk-focused” research and considers the
positive environmental experiences, processes, and outcomes on
30-day substance use among urban youth of color. As researchers
and prevention practitioners, we must consider the empowering
cultural wealth within and among urban youth and their commu-
nities, and work toward cultivating community and youth partner-
ships to create community change agents.
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SUBSTANCE USE AMONG URBAN YOUTH OF COLOR
... The only study using a systems justification framework similarly found a decline in mental and socioemotional health for youth of color who did not develop critical reflection throughout middle school (Godfrey et al., 2019b). The ten studies (Christens & Peterson, 2012;Lardier et al., 2019;2020;Lardier, 2019;Opara et al., 2020a;2020b;Ozer & Schotland 2011;Peterson et al., 2011;Russell et al., 2019;Zimmerman et al., 1999) guided by psychological empowerment theory and mainly using quantitative methods all identified positive relationships between critical motivation (i.e., one's agency and motivation to enact change) with adolescents' mental and socioemotional health, and their risk behaviors. First, Zimmerman et al. (1999) found that sociopolitical control (a common measure of critical motivation rooted in psychological empowerment theory) protected Black boys from feeling helpless and supported their self-esteem. ...
... The only study using a systems justification framework similarly found a decline in mental and socioemotional health for youth of color who did not develop critical reflection throughout middle school (Godfrey et al., 2019b). The ten studies (Christens & Peterson, 2012;Lardier et al., 2019;2020;Lardier, 2019;Opara et al., 2020a;2020b;Ozer & Schotland 2011;Peterson et al., 2011;Russell et al., 2019;Zimmerman et al., 1999) guided by psychological empowerment theory and mainly using quantitative methods all identified positive relationships between critical motivation (i.e., one's agency and motivation to enact change) with adolescents' mental and socioemotional health, and their risk behaviors. First, Zimmerman et al. (1999) found that sociopolitical control (a common measure of critical motivation rooted in psychological empowerment theory) protected Black boys from feeling helpless and supported their self-esteem. ...
... More recent studies, almost entirely with Black, Latinx, and Asian youth of low-income backgrounds in the USA, quantitatively demonstrated psychological empowerment was also positively associated with fewer risk behaviors Peterson et al., 2011) and mental and socioemotional health (Ozer & Schotland, 2011). Further, researchers found that sociopolitical control mediated the relationship between ecological supports and mental health and risk behaviors (Christens & Peterson, 2012), and worked in concert with ethnic identity development to reduce risk behaviors (Lardier et al., 2018Lardier, 2019). These findings on the interplay of ethnic/racial identity and social support with sociopolitical control extended to reducing risk behaviors for Black girls specifically (Opara et al., 2020a). ...
Article
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Youth experiencing systemic oppression(s) face heightened challenges to wellbeing. Critical consciousness, comprised of reflection, motivation, and action against oppression, may protect wellbeing. Wellbeing here refers to mental, socioemotional, and physical health. The aim of this systematic review was to synthesize research on the relationship between critical consciousness and wellbeing among adolescents and young adults (ages 12–29). Five databases (PsycInfo, PsychArticles, ERIC, Sociological Abstracts, and PubMed) were searched systematically using keyword searches and inclusion/exclusion criteria; 29 eligible studies were included. Results demonstrated that the critical consciousness and wellbeing relationship varied by critical consciousness dimension and age. The studies of adolescents most often focused on racial/ethnic marginalization and found critical motivation most strongly associated with better wellbeing. The studies of young adults focused on young adult college students and identified mixed results specifically between activism and mental health. Study methods across age spans were primarily quantitative and cross-sectional. Research on critical consciousness and wellbeing can benefit from studies that consider multiple critical consciousness dimensions, use longitudinal approaches, and include youth experiencing multiple and intersecting systems of privilege and marginalization.
... Psychological sense of community has also been associated with increased mental health and wellness (Prati et al., 2018;Terry et al., 2019) and lower rates of drug and alcohol use among BIPOC youth and young adults (Lardier Jr., 2019;Lardier Jr. et al., 2017;Lardier, Opara, et al., 2019). Studies elsewhere have further tied psychological sense of community with community safety (Leviten-Reid et al., 2020) and perceived community trust (Miranti & Evans, 2019). ...
... Elsewhere, ethnic identity has been positioned as a protective mechanism and a catalyst to promote positive psychosocial outcomes (e.g., confidence and self-esteem) (Brittian et al., 2015;Stevens-Watkins et al., 2012;Umaña-Taylor et al., 2012). Furthermore, ethnic identity has been tied to reductions in drug and alcohol use (Lardier Jr., 2019), depression, and other mental health symptoms (Neblett et al., 2013;Rivas-Drake, 2012), as well as positive health outcomes such as increased HIV and viral hepatitis knowledge . Investigations elsewhere have also connected ethnic identity with reductions in participation in violent behavior (Williams et al., 2014) and positive school outcomes (Rivas-Drake et al., 2012). ...
... Rivas-Drake (2012) also illustrated that Latino young adult students who reported a positive private and public regard (two facets of ethnic identity) described greater sense of community with others on campus, which in turn predicted higher self-esteem and less depression symptoms. More recently, studies have indirectly associated psychological sense of community through ethnic identity among BIPOC with both empowerment (Lardier, 2018), and reductions in drug and alcohol use (Lardier Jr., 2019). ...
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Among young adults fof color, both sense of community and ethnic identity, as developmental processes, have been associated with wellness, empowerment, and civic action. Additional research is needed that provides empirical support for the connection between psychological sense of community and ethnic identity on outcomes that relate to human development such as intrapersonal psychological empowerment, civic engagement, and depression symptoms. The current study of young adults of color (N = 243; 70% Hispanic/Chicano(a)/Spanish and 10% American Indian/Native American; 70% female) investigates heterogeneity according to dimensions of psychological sense of community and the ethnic identity construct. Latent profile analyses (LPA) were conducted. Using LPA, five profile groups emerged. Profile group differences were present on reported levels of intrapersonal psychological empowerment, civic engagement, and depression symptoms. Majority of sample participants were classified with moderate to high psychological sense of community and ethnic identity. Findings provide insights for efforts on developing community belongingness based on ethnic group identity and engaging young adults in civic life.
... Phinney (64,65). These results consistently indicate that a higher level of ethnic identity is a protective factor for depression (22) and substance use (66). ...
... The second hypothesis assumed that ethnic identity would affect mental health problems negatively. It is known that a higher level of ethnic identity is related to mental health and the acculturation process (22,(66)(67)(68). Ethnic identity development is defined as a process related to feelings, opinions, thoughts, and actions related to ethnic group affiliation (62,86). ...
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Background: The number of immigrants has been increasing. Immigrant adolescents experience an acculturation process that affects particularly their ethnic identity, perceived discrimination, and relationships with their peers, which would have significant impact on their mental health. The ethnic composition of social environments might affect this relationship. Objective: The main purpose of the current research is to examine the effect of peer attachment, social support, ethnic identity, and perceived discrimination on immigrant adolescents' mental health. Method: The sample included 226 Syrian immigrants (Xāge= 13.31, SD=1.67, 70.8 % girls). Adolescents live in a homogenous social environment where proportion of Syrian is higher. Two hierarchical regression models were used to predict depression and emotional problems. In both models, the predictive roles of social and psychological factors were examined in separate steps. Results: The regression analysis results for depression emphasized peer attachment, social support, and ethnic identity did not affect the depression after controlling the effect of emotional problems. Similarly, regression analysis results for emotional problems showed that peer attachment, social support, and ethnic identity did not affect depression after controlling the effect of emotional problems. The results also revealed that perceived discrimination was a risk factor for both depression and emotional problems. Conclusions: The results underlined the importance of psychological variables on immigrant adolescents' depression. Past research emphasized that ethnic identity and peer support had a buffering effect on mental health. The current study participants were living in a different area where they attended schools for only immigrants. The social environment was totally different from the host culture. These reasons may account for why social support from ethnic peers and ethnic identity development did not emerge as a protective factor in the present study. The results will further be discussed in terms of the importance of interaction between ethnic and host culture.
... Within the ethnic-racial identity construct, engaging in such participation allows youth to develop a stronger sense of collective group belongingness and connection to individuals within their ethnic-racial group (Hipolito-Delgado & Zion, 2017). Lardier (2019) found that youth who reported high intrapersonal PE and high ethnic identity also reported high community participation, high sense of community, and had a greater risk perception of using drugs and alcohol. Similarly, Opara et al. (2019a) found that girls of color who had higher levels of intrapersonal PE also had higher levels of ethnic identity, social support, and lower levels of drug use. ...
... Furthermore, findings provide support for ethnic identity as a conceptually related variable with intrapersonal PE. This is a notable finding because it builds upon prior research illustrating that higher intrapersonal PE is associated with greater ethnic group identity among youth of color (Lardier, 2019;Lardier et al., 2018;Opara et al., 2019a). Intrapersonal PE and ethnic identity together are considered individual traits; however, these traits are often strengthened during adolescence and are part of a larger structural process that can promote wellness among Black adolescent girls within a society that has marginalized them as a whole. ...
Article
Limited research has examined intrapersonal psychological empowerment (PE) among Black girls solely. This study aims to fill a gap in empowerment literature by examining the factor structure of the Sociopolitical Control Scale for Youth (SPCS-Y) among Black girls ( N = 377) between the ages of 14–17 years old. We also examine the association with ethnic identity as a conceptually related variable. Structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to examine the factorial validity of the abbreviated, eight-item SPCS-Y among Black girls. Results support the two-dimensional factor structure of the abbreviated SPCS-Y among Black girls, as well as the association intrapersonal PE has with ethnic identity. Findings provide preliminary support for the empirical and theoretical relationship between intrapersonal PE and ethnic identity among Black girls.
... Empowerment theory considers the assets and abilities that are fostered within individuals and communities to improve lives. It has been broadly applied to studies examining individual wellbeing (Christens et al., 2014;Itzhaky et al., 2015;Lardier Jr, 2019;Opara, Lardier Jr, Fernandez, Garcia-Reid, & Reid, 2020;Peterson, Speer, & Peterson, 2011), aspects of healthy communities (Rupp et al., 2020), and interventions that foster empowerment among participants Zimmerman, 1995Zimmerman, , 2000. ...
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Sociopolitical control (SPC) has been identified as a key element of the intrapersonal component of psychological empowerment. The Sociopolitical Control Scale (SPCS) is a widely used measure and has been modified for use among youth (SPCS-Y). In light of the emerging interest in SPC among youth within community-based research, this study applied item response theory (IRT) to examine the psychometric properties of the SPCS-Y and to explore a brief version. Data were collected between 2006 and 2013 from a convenience sample of high school students (N = 1,808), located in a midsized, economically disadvantaged urban community in the northeastern United States. Findings indicate that the two subscales, leadership competence, and policy control, were unidimensional and items functioned well. Most items functioned particularly well at low and moderate levels of the construct, but a few were able to capture higher levels of the construct. Based on our IRT analyses of the performance of items on the subscales, we selected items to create a brief version of the SPCS-Y (BSPCS-Y) and performed structural equation modeling for further examination. Results provide empirical evidence to support the reliability and validity of the SPCS-Y and suggest a brief version based on high-performing items is possible. High Lights • Item response theory was applied to explore the Sociopolitical Control Scale for Youth (SPCS-Y). • Results were used to create a brief version of the SPCS-Y (BSPCS-Y) for further investigation. • This study contributes to the vast empowerment literature with a critical youth measure
... 8 Racism is practiced on multiple levels: interpersonal, institutional, and structural. For example, BIPoC are less likely than others to have health insurance that covers timely access to behavioral health services (structural), 9 receive evidence-based prevention curricula in school (institutional), 10 and receive treatment instead of arrest and incarceration for drug-related offenses (interpersonal and structural). 11 The negative impacts on the overall health of BIPoC are compounded through implicit and explicit biases, institutional structures, and interpersonal relationships. ...
Article
Recognizing that racism has profound effects on persons who use alcohol and other drugs, the Association for Multidisciplinary Education and Research in Substance use and Addiction (AMERSA) commits to promoting equity and inclusion to dismantle the individual, institutional, and structural racism that has pervaded the United States for centuries. Racism’s deadly effects compounded with other social determinants of health result in a cascade of negative impacts. These include higher rates of incarceration, increased risk of overdose, fewer employment options, multi-generational poverty and economic disadvantage for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPoC). The AMERSA Board of Directors (BOD) proposes an initial set of strategies to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion using a framework that speaks to four key AMERSA experiences: engagement, education, mentorship, and leadership.
... Generally, youth living in marginalized social positions may find greater difficulty in feeling connected to their community, as well as having opportunities for civic engagement; however, the extant research indicates that those youth of color who experience greater psychological sense of community are not only more satisfied with their community, but have greater capacity toward contributing to the community environment (Kenyon & Carter, 2011;Lardier, Barrios, et al., 2020;Rivas-Drake, 2012). For instance, greater psychological sense of community and civic participation among youth of color has been associated with connection to one's ethnic-racial group (Guti errez, 1989;Rivas-Drake, 2012), as well as reductions in negative behavioral outcomes such as substance use and mental health symptoms (Lardier, 2019). ...
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For lesbian, gay, bisexual, and questioning (LGBQ) youth of color, the intersection of identifying as both LGBQ and a person of color results in not only managing racial stereotypes, but also heterosexism and genderism. Developing a critical understanding of oppressive social conditions and ways to engage in social action is a form of resistance for these youth. Research is needed among LGBQ youth of color that examines the range of predictors and outcomes related to civic engagement, development, and empowerment. Drawing on data derived from a sample of urban youth of color (N = 383; 53.1% Female; 75% Hispanic; Age range = 14 to 18 years; 15% identify as LGBQ), this study will: (1) examine the relationship between community-based perceptions (e.g., psychological sense of community), ethnic identity, behaviors (e.g., community civic participation) and awareness of social justice concerns with dimensions of psychological empowerment; and (2) assess differences that these relationships have between LGBQ and non-LGBQ youth of color. Findings indicate that main predictors have a positive impact on intrapersonal and cognitive dimensions of psychological empowerment through social justice orientation, with noted variations between LGBQ and non-LGBQ youth of color.
... This spike in youth unemployment has had a hangover effect as studies show young adults continue to experience lower job allocation rates, more employment insecurities, and polarized local labor markets where they now vie for fewer jobs with adults and older workerswhom research suggests employers prefereven for jobs typically staffed by younger workers (Wiertz and Lim, 2019;Harrington and Fogg, 2015;Visser, 2019b). In this restricted landscape of economic opportunity, research has also charted the challenges that older youth generally, and disconnected youth specifically now face in the US (Visser, 2016;Zaff, 2018) as well as the potential labor market and educational interventions needed to support this increasingly vulnerable youth populationparticularly in urban settings ( Lardier, 2019;Visser, 2018). Yet, a narrowly circumscribed focus on the urban setting and labor market and educational policy as avenues for intervention has consistently overlooked the experience of disconnected youth in non-urban areas. ...
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Since the Great Recession older youth in US rural economies experience longer periods of disconnection from school and work, resulting in increased economic insecurity. We analyze data from interviews with young adults ages 18–24 and ethnographic fieldwork to explore how and why young adults who are disconnected from school and work utilize institutions available to them in their local community settings to ensure livelihoods. Using a livelihood analysis approach, findings suggest Community Based Youth Serving Organizations (CBYSOs) are used by disconnected youth in three ways: 1) as a diversification strategy 2) as a transformative strategy; and 3) as a last resort.
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Applying the multiple psychological sense of community concept (MPSOC), this study explored how emerging adults with substance use problems experience the influences of various senses of community and communities on their personal recovery processes. Semi-structured interviews with 21 emerging adults from different urban contexts in Norway were analysed using a collaborative, seven-step, deductive, and reflexive thematic approach. MPSOC is shown to be a key concept for achieving a broad, in-depth understanding of emerging adults' senses of community and personal experiences of community influences on recovery processes from substance use. Positive and negative senses of community in geographical, relational, substance use-related and ideal communities influence the potentials and challenges in emerging adults' recovery processes. Supportive and motivating community relationships , meaningful activities with peers, and distance from recovery-impeding communities were identified as important recovery components. To promote recovery and prevent substance use in emerging adults, community approaches and tools applied in substance use treatment have J Community Psychol. 2022;1-31. wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/jcop | 1 This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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Background Substance use among youth is a major public health concern. Of note, substance use among youth is increasing in prevalence, and the incidence of substance use at earlier ages is rising. Given the long-term consequences of early substance use, it is important to identify factors that increase youth vulnerability to drug use, as they may be important targets for future interventions. Objective This study aims to use innovative methods, such as venue-based sampling, to recruit youth who are disconnected from school and use community-based participatory research to gain a better understanding of the prevalence of substance use and important correlates among youth aged between 13 and 21 years in Paterson, New Jersey, a low-income, urban community. The study will use a convergent, mixed methods design involving multiple data collection components and the analysis of a ministrative data source, designed with the strengths of complex intervention frameworks in mind. The overall aims of the study are to identify the prevalence of substance use among youth who are engaged in school and not engaged in school; to understand important antecedents and correlates of substance use; and to use this information to inform social, environmental, and culturally appropriate interventions to address substance use and its correlates among youths in a lower-resourced urban community. Methods This study will use both qualitative and quantitative methods to address important questions. Specifically, semistructured interviews using focus group and interview methodologies will be used to assess youths’ lived experiences and will account for specific details that quantitative methods may not be able to attain. In addition, quantitative methods will be used to examine direct and multilevel associations between neighborhood factors and youth substance use and mental health outcomes. Results A previous analysis from a substance use initiative in Paterson, New Jersey found that youth who use substances such as marijuana and alcohol are more likely to have higher rates of depression and anxiety. On the basis of the research questions, this study will examine the association between neighborhood characteristics, substance use, and mental health symptoms among youth in Paterson by using quantitative and qualitative methods and will use these findings to inform the adaptation of a community- and evidence-based substance use prevention intervention for these youths. Conclusions The findings of this study will provide an important contribution to understanding the role of socioecological factors in predicting substance use and mental health outcomes among youth in a lower-resourced, urban community. Furthermore, these findings will serve as evidence for the development of a culturally informed, community-based prevention program to address substance use disparities for youth, including those who are truant in Paterson, New Jersey. International Registered Report Identifier (IRRID) PRR1-10.2196/29427
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Psychological empowerment encompasses several key aspects of youth civic and sociopolitical development. Most research has focused on psychological empowerment’s emotional component, which entails learned hopefulness about one’s own ability to participate in and lead community change efforts. Fewer studies have assessed critical awareness of how social power operates—psychological empowerment’s cognitive component. The confluence of these two components has been termed critical hopefulness. A complex relationship exists between these two components, and previous research has found relatively small proportions of participants reporting both high levels of critical awareness and simultaneously high levels of hopefulness about their ability to exert influence in the sociopolitical domain. The current study of urban high school students in the Northeastern U.S. (n = 389; 53.5% female) investigates heterogeneity according to these two components of psychological empowerment. Latent class cluster analyses were conducted and seven distinct groups of participants emerged. Students identifying as Hispanic/Latinx were more likely to be classified into a profile group exhibiting critical hopefulness. Differences were observed between psychological empowerment profile groups on self-reported levels of psychological sense of community, civic engagement, and social justice orientation. Furthermore, a larger proportion of this overall sample was classified into groups that exhibited critical hopefulness than in a previous study of adults. These findings provide useful insights for efforts to engage young people in civic life and to promote sociopolitical development.
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Neighborhood sense of community (SOC) is a key construct in the community psychology literature. While the research on neighborhood SOC has progressed significantly, there is a need to further validate the Brief Sense of Community Scale (BSCS) among youth. A critical area of scholarship, therefore, is to examine the factor structure of the BSCS among a cohort of adolescents, particularly from the United States. This study tested the factor structure of the BSCS among a sample of urban youth of color (N = 383) using SPSS AMOS, a structural equation modeling software. After testing the factor structure, we examined the relationships between each of the BSCS subscales and conceptually related variables (e.g., psychological empowerment, relational power, and school importance). Results from this study confirm the first‐ and second‐order factor structure of the BSCS among youth. BSCS and its underlying subscales were both correlated with one another and correlated with the intrapersonal component of psychological empowerment, relational power, and school importance. Our findings have critical implications for the field of community psychology and the development and use of the BSCS among adolescents.
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Empowerment is a higher order multilevel framework that is used to understand and evaluate individuals, groups, organizations, and communities as they engage in the practice and execution of the participatory process. The intrapersonal component of psychological empowerment has been examined through sociopolitical control and occupies two dimensions: leadership competence and policy control. Though the Sociopolitical Control Scale for Youth (SPCS-Y) has been examined using a 17-item scale, Christens, Krauss, and Zeldin (2016) recently assessed the factorial validity of an abbreviated SPCS-Y among a sample of Malaysian adolescents. Yet, there is a need to further examine this abbreviated SPCS-Y among a sample of U.S adolescents. This study tested the factor structure of the abbreviated SPCS-Y among a sample of urban youth of color (N = 383). Using multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) we examined the relationship leadership competence and policy control had with conceptually related variables. Analyses supported the bidimensional factor structure and the factorial validity of the abbreviated SPCS-Y. MANOVA results also indicate that participants with both higher leadership competence and policy control also had higher composite scores among conceptually related variables.
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Empowerment research has made important contributions toward understanding youth development, well-being, and activism; however, it has failed to consider the impact that ethnic identity has on psychological empowerment (PE) and among related empowerment predictors (e.g., community participation and neighborhood sense of community [SOC]). The present study focuses on examining the mediating role of ethnic identity between community participation, neighborhood SOC, and PE. Using structural equation modeling path analysis techniques among a sample of Hispanic and Black youth (N = 1,480) from an underresourced community, this study examines the mediating role of ethnic identity between community participation, neighborhood SOC, and PE. Community participation and neighborhood SOC had a positive direct effect on both ethnic identity and PE. Both community participation and neighborhood SOC also indirectly affected PE through ethnic identity. This study supports the mediating role of ethnic identity and the direct effect of ethnic identity on PE. Results point toward the importance of ethnic identity with PE and in the empowerment process. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.
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This study examined adult workers' conceptions of their work with youth in a large, underserved, urban region in the northeastern United States. Drawing on qualitative interviews with 18 youth workers from various organizations, affiliated with a community coalition focused on substance abuse prevention, we explored how adults viewed their role of working with youth. We were particularly interested in whether these workers saw youth empowerment and collaboration with youth for community change as part of their role. Our data suggested that while workers in this study were very supportive of youth, the support and actions they provided were on behalf of rather than with them and that, in general, partnering with youth for community change was not a part of what they envisioned their work to be. While a few of the adults attempted to work more collaboratively with youth, they were clearly in the minority. ARTICLE HISTORY
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Decades of legislative actions and power imbalances have limited African American/Black and Hispanic/Latina(o) urban youth's perceptions of empowerment and ability to rely upon social and institutional resources. Youth who have access to supportive resourcesn and are connected to their ethnic–racial group perceive themselves as empowered and score higher on indicators of well-being. Among a sample of African American/Black and Hispanic/Latina(o) urban youth (N = 383) and using multivariate analysis of variance, the current study examined the relationship between psychological empowerment (PE) and ethnic identity among conceptually relevant outcome variables: community participation, neighborhood sense of community (SOC), school importance, and perceived substance use risk. Results indicated that PE and ethnic identity profile groups differed significantly on measures of community participation, neighborhood SOC, school importance, and perceived risk of using substances. Results provide preliminary support for the empirical and theoretical relationship between PE and ethnic identity on related empowerment measures, as well as indicators of well-being. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.
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Few studies have examined the influences of the participatory process in which individuals engage in as they work to improve the quality of lives in their communities. More specifically, our present investigation explored the relationship between various contextual factors that predict citizen participation in substance abuse prevention activities among a random sample of urban residents (n=283) who participated in a community-wide policing initiative in the Southwestern United States. A hypothesized path model was tested that included person (concerns with violence victimization and attributions of drug abuse), situation (perceived responsiveness to drug crime), and environment-related predictors (perceived neighbourhood incivilities and awareness of neighbourhood substance abuse problems) of citizen participation. Findings suggest that individuals who perceived higher levels of neighbourhood incivilities tended to have higher levels of participation in substance abuse prevention activities. Interestingly, however, individuals with greater perceived neighbourhood substance abuse problems also tended to perceive that police were less responsive to drug crime in their neighbourhoods. Program developers and public health practitioners should consider the individuals' perception of the neighbourhood environment on citizen participation and include activities designed to address public perception of police responsiveness to crime.
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Hispanic urban youth experience high levels of violence, access to drugs and alcohol, and limited access to quality educational institutions, as well as a disproportionate use of substances. However, youth exposed to multiple sources of support, such as values related to family centrality (e.g., family cohesion or familismo) and positive social networks, are less likely to use substances, and more likely to value school and participate in community activities. The present study examines substance use and empowering-protective resources among a cohort of Hispanic students (N = 538) from a northeastern United States urban community. We also assessed the moderating influence of gender using structural equation modeling (SEM) multigroup path analysis techniques. Results indicate that access to more sociocultural resources, such as cohesive families (familismo) and social supports, increases Hispanic adolescents’ community participation and school importance. Outcomes also demonstrate the positive, yet diverging, effects of gender. Implications for community prevention and policy are discussed.