Rural African American Adolescents’ Development: A Critical Review of Empirical Studies and Preventive Intervention Programs

Part of the Advancing Responsible Adolescent Development book series (ARAD)


For many African American adolescents, growing up in the rural south increases the likelihood that they will not only be poor but will live in situations characterized as persistent, “deep poverty.” Despite the challenges associated with growing up in often low-resource rural communities, many African American adolescents are able to survive and thrive. How do they overcome the odds and achieve various tasks that this developmental stage presents? The primary purpose of this chapter is to draw attention to and integrate knowledge on contextual factors affecting these youth to enable a more holistic understanding of normative development and adjustment among rural African American adolescents. This chapter synthesizes extant studies on developmental and behavioral domains of rural African American youth that have been identified as major areas of racial/ethnic disparities, including academic achievement and behavioral health. In addition, we consider the protective nature of person–context relations among these youth in order to identify malleable targets that can be manipulated in preventive interventions to reduce disparities in these multiple domains. Finally, we evaluate the extent to which preventive interventions designed to prevent or to reduce these disparities are theoretically and empirically informed by research findings that included rural African American families and adolescents as study participants.


Rural residence patterns and context Parenting African American family protective factors Racial/ethnic identity development Academic outcomes Conduct problems Sexual risk and substance use Positive youth development Peer affiliation Inequities and discrimination Culturally tailored preventive intervention programs 



Murry and Liu’s effort on this book chapter was supported by National Institute of Mental Health Grant MH063043 National Institute of Mental Health Grant MH063043 supported Murry and Liu’s effort on this book chapter through funding for the Center Research on Rural Families and Communities Peabody College, Vanderbilt University.


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Human and Organizational DevelopmentPeabody College, Vanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Human and Organizational DevelopmentPeabody College, Vanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA

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