Academic Aspirations as a Moderator of the link between Negative Life Events and Delinquency in a Sample of Latino Youth
University of Kansas
Clinical Child Psychology
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Latino youth are one of the fastest growing populations in the United States (Passel, 2011), and Latino youth are at a disproportionately higher risk for experiencing negative life events (NLEs). However, there are few studies examining risk and protective factors for the potentially negative outcomes that Latino youth who experience high levels of NLEs may face. This study examined the effect of NLEs on self-reported delinquency in a sample of Latino youth and evaluated academic aspirations as a moderator of these associations. It was hypothesized that the association between NLEs and delinquency would be buffered by high levels of academic aspirations. 144 Latino adolescents (N = 78 Males, M = 16.25 years, SD = 1.46; range = 14 - 19 years) attending a charter high school in a large, Midwestern city completed a survey that included NLEs, self-reported delinquency and academic aspiration measures. Findings supported a link between NLEs and delinquency. Further, academic aspirations moderated the associations between NLEs related to safety and health and delinquency. For safety-related NLEs, the highest levels of delinquency occurred when academic aspirations were low and safety-related NLEs were high. For health-related NLEs, at low levels of academic aspirations, delinquent behaviors were consistently high. Further, the lowest levels of delinquency occurred when academic aspirations were high and health-related NLEs were low. Results have important implications for targeting Latino students who report high levels of NLEs for the prevention of delinquent behaviors. Encouraging academic goals may be an effective strategy for deterring delinquent behavior among those who experience NLEs. Implications and future directions for research are discussed.
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