Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 15–29 | Cite as

Racial Discrimination and African American Adolescents’ Adjustment: Gender Variation in Family and Community Social Support, Promotive and Protective Factors

  • Shauna M. CooperEmail author
  • Charity Brown
  • Isha Metzger
  • Yvette Clinton
  • Barbara Guthrie
Original Paper


The current investigation explores the promotive and protective role of family and community-specific social support on the association between perceived racial discrimination and African American adolescents’ adjustment (e.g., depressive symptoms, school suspensions, school engagement). One thousand nine-hundred forty-two African American adolescents (ages 12–18, M = 15.12; SD = 1.83; 59 % female) from a large Midwestern city participated in this investigation. Regression analyses revealed that perceived racial discrimination was associated with less positive adjustment outcomes for boys and girls. Additionally, there was partial support for gender variation in the promotive role of social support and adolescent adjustment. In particular, while only maternal support was associated with boys’ adjustment, both maternal and paternal support was associated with girls’ adjustment. Also, there was partial support for gender differentiation in the strength and directionality of protective factors. Though in an unpredicted direction, father support moderated the relationship between perceived racial discrimination and girls’ adjustment. Community supports (religious connection and mentor presence) emerged as protective factors for boys’. Findings highlight the role of gender in understanding potential promotive and protective factors for African American adolescents.


African American Racial discrimination Adolescence Gender Psychological adjustment School adjustment 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shauna M. Cooper
    • 1
    Email author
  • Charity Brown
    • 1
  • Isha Metzger
    • 1
  • Yvette Clinton
    • 2
  • Barbara Guthrie
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.CNA CorporationAlexandriaUSA
  3. 3.School of NursingYale UniversityNew HavenUSA

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