Urban, Low-income Youth: Chronic Stress, Psychological Symptoms, and the Impact of Parental Involvement
Degree awarded: M.A. Psychology. American University
This study sought to determine the manner in which urban stressors impact adolescent psychological functioning and the role of the parent-adolescent relationship as a buffer against symptoms. Two hundred fifty-nine urban, low-income, predominantly African American and Latino adolescents in the Chicago Public School System were administered surveys questioning their exposure to stressors (i.e., exposure to violence, major life events, daily hassles), psychological symptoms (i.e., measures of internalizing and externalizing), and levels of mother and father attachment. Pearson correlations and linear regressions demonstrated that, generally, as stress increased, psychological symptoms increased. Mother and father attachment moderated the relationships between stressors and symptoms such that they weakened the strength of these relationships. Exposure to violence demonstrated fewer significant effects than other stressors, which may be explained by the normalization of violence in urban environments. This study highlights the importance of prevention and intervention in early adolescence to enhance mental health.