Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 42, Issue 1, pp 136–146 | Cite as

Context Matters: Links Between Neighborhood Discrimination, Neighborhood Cohesion and African American Adolescents’ Adjustment

  • Elizabeth M. Riina
  • Anne Martin
  • Margo Gardner
  • Jeanne Brooks-Gunn
Empirical Research


Racial discrimination has serious negative consequences for the adjustment of African American adolescents. Taking an ecological approach, this study examined the linkages between perceived racial discrimination within and outside of the neighborhood and urban adolescents’ externalizing and internalizing behaviors, and tested whether neighborhood cohesion operated as a protective factor. Data came from 461 African American adolescents (mean age = 15.24 years, SD = 1.56; 50 % female) participating in the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods. Multilevel models revealed that perceived discrimination within youth’s neighborhoods was positively related to externalizing, and discrimination both within and outside of youth’s neighborhoods predicted greater internalizing problems. Neighborhood cohesion moderated the association between within-neighborhood discrimination and externalizing. Specifically, high neighborhood cohesion attenuated the association between within-neighborhood discrimination and externalizing. The discussion centers on the implications of proximal stressors and neighborhood cohesion for African American adolescents’ adjustment.


Racial discrimination African American adolescents Externalizing Internalizing Neighborhood cohesion 



This research was generously supported by Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Grant R01HD060719.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth M. Riina
    • 1
  • Anne Martin
    • 1
  • Margo Gardner
    • 1
  • Jeanne Brooks-Gunn
    • 1
  1. 1.National Center for Children and Families, Teachers CollegeColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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