The help-seeking orientations of Latino and non-Latino urban high school students: a critical-sociological investigation

Abstract

This study focuses on the help-seeking orientations of low-status Latino adolescents. Help-seeking orientation is defined as a person's proclivity to resolve personal and academic problems through the seeking of social support (i.e., coping by seeking help). This article presents a selected review of the literature on key social antecedents of people's help-seeking orientation. It also presents an emerging sociological framework for recasting this social psychological phenomenon as an important mediating link between the systematic forces of class, race, and gender and the life chances of low-status youth. The authors report on a cross-sectional study of three measures of adolescent help-seeking orientation, based on a questionnaire survey of one urban high school in the southwestern United States. Measures of social class, gender, age, English-language proficiency, and academic performance were examined for their independent predictive value. The authors also tested for differential effects across three student groups: Spanish-dominant Latinos, English-proficient Latinos, and non-Latinos. Gender and academic performance emerged as the most salient predictors, suggesting that low-achieving males are particularly prone to withdraw from vital sources of support. Latino immigrants with little English proficiency also revealed signs of a negative or conflictive orientation toward help seeking, reporting low degrees of interpersonal openness and a low desire for academic support.

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Stanton-Salazar, R.D., Chávez, L.F. & Tai, R.H. The help-seeking orientations of Latino and non-Latino urban high school students: a critical-sociological investigation. Social Psychology of Education 5, 49–82 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1012708332665

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Keywords

  • Academic Performance
  • English Proficiency
  • Life Chance
  • Latino Immigrant
  • Academic Problem