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Journal Article

Citation

Williams AL, Merten MJ. J. Youth Adolesc. 2014; 43: 1563-1575.

Affiliation

Department of Child and Family Studies, University of Southern Mississippi, 118 College Dr. #5035, Hattiesburg, MS, 39406, USA, [email protected]

Copyright

(Copyright © 2014, Springer Science+Business Media)

DOI

10.1007/s10964-014-0141-8

PMID

24907892

Abstract

Family stress models illustrate how communities affect youth outcomes through effects on parents and studies consistently show the enduring effects of early community context. The present study takes a different approach identifying human agency during adolescence as a potentially significant promotive factor mediating the relationship between community, parenting, and mental health. While agency is an important part of resilience, its longitudinal effects are unknown, particularly based on gender and race/ethnicity. The purpose of this research was to model the long-term effects of community structural adversity and social resources as predictors of adolescent depressive symptom trajectories via indirect effects of parental happiness, parent-child relationships, and human agency. Latent growth analyses were conducted with 1,796 participants (53 % female; 56 % White) across four waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health spanning adolescence (Wave 1) through adulthood (Wave 4). The results identified agency as an important promotive factor during adolescence with long-term mental health benefits, but only for White and male participants. For these individuals, community social resources and the quality of the parent-child relationship were related to higher levels of agency and more positive mental health trajectories. Although community social resources similarly benefitted parenting and agency among females and non-White participants, there were no significant links between agency and depressive symptoms for these youth. The results suggest that agency remains an important, but poorly understood concept and additional work is necessary to continue unpacking its meaning for diverse groups of youth.


Language: en

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