Racial Socialization, Private Regard, and Behavior Problems in African American Youth: Global Self-Esteem as a Mediator

Abstract

Racial socialization messages appear to have varying impacts on the adjustment of African American youth. To further explore this, we examined how two types of racial socialization messages might influence African American youth internalizing and externalizing behavior. The Youth Self Report was used to measure these behavior outcomes. Given that racial socialization messages may not be directly linked to behavior outcomes, we considered private regard, an aspect of racial identity, to serve as a mediator. Additionally, we examined global self-esteem as a mediator of the complex dynamic between racial socialization messages and behavior outcomes. Adolescents in our study completed paper assessments. Majority of the participants were female (56 %) and reside in a metropolitan area in the Mid-Atlantic region. Adolescent’s ages ranged from 14 to 17 years with the average age being 15 years old. Path analysis revealed cultural pride and alertness to discrimination messages varied in their relation to private regard. Results also indicated a strong linkage between private regard, global self-esteem, and internalizing behaviors. Interestingly, the linkage between private regard, global self-esteem and externalizing behaviors was not as robust. Further, private regard appeared to directly and indirectly impact externalizing behaviors. The implications of these findings for racial socialization strategies, identity development (racial and global) as it pertains to behavior problems for African American adolescents are discussed.

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Davis, B.L., Smith-Bynum, M.A., Saleem, F.T. et al. Racial Socialization, Private Regard, and Behavior Problems in African American Youth: Global Self-Esteem as a Mediator. J Child Fam Stud 26, 709–720 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-016-0601-8

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Keywords

  • Racial socialization
  • Racial identity
  • Global self-esteem
  • Behavior
  • Externalizing problems
  • Internalizing problems