Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 41, Issue 7, pp 847–862 | Cite as

Multiple Identification and Risks: Examination of Peer Factors Across Multiracial and Single-Race Youth

  • Yoonsun ChoiEmail author
  • Michael He
  • Todd I. Herrenkohl
  • Richard F. Catalano
  • John W. Toumbourou
Empirical Research


Multiracial youth are thought to be more vulnerable to peer-related risk factors than are single-race youth. However, there have been surprisingly few well-designed studies on this topic. This study empirically investigated the extent to which multiracial youth are at higher risk for peer influenced problem behavior. Data are from a representative and longitudinal sample of youth from Washington State (N = 1,760, mean age = 14.13, 50.9% girls). Of those in the sample, 225 youth self-identified as multiracial (12.8%), 1,259 as White (71.5%), 152 as Latino (8.6%), and 124 as Asian American (7.1%). Results show that multiracial youth have higher rates of violence and alcohol use than Whites and more marijuana use than Asian Americans. Higher levels of socioeconomic disadvantage and single-parent family status partly explained the higher rates of problem behaviors among multiracial youth. Peer risk factors of substance-using or antisocial friends were higher for multiracial youth than Whites, even after socioeconomic variables were accounted for, demonstrating a higher rate of peer risks among multiracial youth. The number of substance-using friends was the most consistently significant correlate and predictor of problems and was highest among multiracial youth. However, interaction tests did not provide consistent evidence of a stronger influence of peer risks among multiracial youth. Findings underscore the importance of a differentiated understanding of vulnerability in order to better target prevention and intervention efforts as well as the need for further research that can help identify and explain the unique experiences and vulnerabilities of multiracial youth.


Multiracial youth Youth behaviors Peer factors Youth risks 



Data collection for this work was supported by grant #DA012140-05 (National Institute on Drug Abuse) and data analysis and manuscript preparation by grants from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (#1 R01AA017188-01), the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (Project Grant #491241) and Australian Research Council (Discovery Project Grant #DP0663371). The content of this article is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agencies.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yoonsun Choi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michael He
    • 1
  • Todd I. Herrenkohl
    • 2
  • Richard F. Catalano
    • 2
  • John W. Toumbourou
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.The School of Social Service AdministrationThe University of ChicagoChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Social Development Research Group, School of Social WorkUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  3. 3.School of PsychologyDeakin UniversityGeelongAustralia
  4. 4.Centre for Adolescent HealthMurdoch Childrens Research InstituteParkvilleAustralia

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