Can you see what we see? -- Dr. Oscar Barbarin, Professor of African American Studies and Professor of Psychology, Dr. Michael Wagner, Associate Research Scientist, and Dr. Nikeea Copeland-Linder, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, published an article on resilience in Black children and youth. In this article, Barbarin, Wagner and Copeland-Linder discusses how the exposure to violence, mental illness, and substance abuse affects the health, wellbeing, and development of Black youth. Below is the abstract for the article.


A premise of positive youth development is that social competencies can develop in adversity and co-exist with problem behaviors. This research tested whether African American youth ages 9–17 who had experienced significant family stressors would form groups that displayed combinations of adversity, problem behavior, and strengths. Parents of a nationally representative sample of African Americans children were interviewed on child difficulties and strengths as part of the CDC’s 2019 National Health Interview Survey. About 15% of the national sample of African American youth had experienced violence or parental incarceration, depression, or drug abuse. Latent class analysis (LCA) using indicators of adversity and strengths identified four distinct classes. Class 1 included youth who experienced multiple adversities, exhibited few strengths, and were high in behavior problems. Members of both classes 2 and 3 were more likely to experience parental incarceration but exhibited altruism. Class 3 also experienced parental mental health problems. Members of class 4 had the highest exposure to violence but were comparatively high in altruism and affability. Regression analysis revealed that the groups differed from one another on emotional health but not on physical health controlling for age and gender. These findings support a focus by mental health prevention programs on building on the strengths of children growing up in adversity.


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barbarin and wagner