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Correlates of substance use among urban Latino immigrant high school freshmen: Linguistic acculturation, friends' use, and sense of school belonging

Dissertation
Author: Ayorkor L. Gaba
Abstract:
Substance use in immigrant youth frequently has been associated with different aspects of acculturation. There is inconsistency in the literature, however, about the direction of these relationships. Furthermore, seldom has the role of acculturation been examined in the context of other common substance use correlates, such as peer use and relationship with parents. Finally, the possible contribution of sense of school belonging previously has not been considered along with acculturation, peer use, and parent relationships, in explaining substance use and intentions to use in immigrant adolescents. Thus, the current study examined the extent to which levels of language and cultural acculturation, years in the country, sense of school belonging, relationship with parents, and friends' use would account for their use and intentions to use substances in a sample of 166 Northeastern ninth grade urban Latino immigrant adolescents. Regression analysis revealed that language acculturation, sense of school belonging, and friends' use were significantly associated with adolescent substance use and intentions to use. Consistent with past research in the general adolescent population, Latino immigrant youth who had fewer friends who use substances and had higher levels of school bonding/sense of school belonging were less likely to report using substances and/or having intentions to use. Contrary to previous literature examining non-clinical immigrant youth, the current study found that higher use of native language (low language acculturation) also predicted students' use and intentions to use.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

PAGE

ABSTRACT...............................................................................................................ii

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS.......................................................................................iv

LIST OF TABLES.....................................................................................................v

CHAPTER

I. INTRODUCTION................................................................................1 Immigration...........................................................................................5 Acculturation.........................................................................................9 Acculturation and adolescent substance abuse.....................................12 Sense of school belonging....................................................................13 Current study.........................................................................................20

II. METHODOLOGY...............................................................................22 Participants............................................................................................22 Procedures.............................................................................................23 Measures...............................................................................................24

III. RESULTS.............................................................................................29 Descriptive Analysis.............................................................................29 Correlation Analysis.............................................................................29 Regression.............................................................................................31

IV. DISCUSSION.......................................................................................34

REFERENCES..........................................................................................................42

APPENDICES...........................................................................................................63

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LIST OF TABLES PAGE

1. Demographic characteristics..................................................................................23

2. Characteristics of the multi-item measures............................................................28

3. Correlations............................................................................................................30

4. Summary of multiple regression analysis predicting use/intentions to use...........33

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CHAPTER I Introduction Latino youth (immigrant and non-immigrant), as compared to White and Black youth, in the U.S. have been found to have some of the highest substance use rates. For example, the Monitoring the Future survey found that 12 th grade Latino youth reported the highest use of both crack and ecstasy and 8th grade Latino youth reported the highest use rates of many drugs include, including alcohol (Johnston, O’Malley & Bachman, 2001). The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy’s 2007 report cite that approximately 10 % of Latino eighth-graders reported past month use of illicit drugs compared to 7.5 % of White 8 th graders and 8.6% of Black 8 th graders; 8% of Latino eighth-graders reported past-month use of marijuana compared to 7.5% of White youth and 5.8% of Black youth in the 8 th grade (ONDCP, 2007). Researchers have identified a relationship between acculturation, measured in various ways, and substance use among immigrant youth. There is some inconsistency in the literature about the direction of the relationship. Community based studies find that as acculturation (as defined by length of residence in the U.S., language spoken at home with parents, and/or language preference) increases, immigrant substance use and/or risk of use increases (Blake, Ledsky, Goodenow, & O'Donnell, 2001; Epstein et al., 2001, 2003; Gfroerer & Tan, 2003; Vega, Gil, & Zimmerman, 1993). Some assert that risk and use increases as youth acculturate because immigrant adolescents, particular Spanish youth who speak Spanish more often

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across various settings and groups (school, friends, and family), initially are sheltered from social networks that enable them to access environments and groups where substances are being used and offered to them. It is hypothesized that these social networks are more likely to be English speaking. (Escobar, 1998; Gil & Wagner, 2000; Marsiglia, Kulis, Hecht, & Sills, 2004; Marsiglia & Waller, 2002). As immigrant adolescents become less “sheltered” their access to social networks that are generally more acculturated and the broader community increases, hence increasing their exposure and access to substances and substance using peers. Additionally, because immigrant adults tend to learn English at a slower pace than immigrant children do, acquisition of and preference for English by children in Spanish speaking families can lead to detrimental changes in protective family dynamics and communication, such as family structure and hierarchy. For example, as children learn to speak English faster than their parents and grandparents, they often are placed in the role of the translator. This tends to shifts the power differential in Latino families, which are generally hierarchical in structure. This shift may lead to family and cultural conflict (Marsiglia, Miles, Dustman, & Sills, 2002; Vega, Zimmerman, Warheit, Apospori, & Gil, 1997). This dynamic is often referred to as the “acculturation gap.” It is hypothesized that this gap causes familial conflict and erodes parent-related factors that protect against youth drug use. On the other hand, research with Latino youth in clinical populations found that less acculturated (as defined as language behavior in different contexts) adolescents had more severe drug problems (Gil, Wagner, & Tubman, 2004). In a high-risk clinical population (African American and Hispanic juvenile offenders with AOD problems) participating in a brief guided self-change (GSC) intervention, baseline levels of alcohol

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and marijuana use were highest among the foreign-born Hispanics. Additionally, a recent study examining “Keepin’ it REAL”, a model program for substance use prevention in schools, found that less acculturated (defined as youth who spoke more Spanish with their friends and family members) Latino boys started out with higher substance use rates and greater pro-substance use norms (e.g., positive drug expectations) (Kulis,Yabiku, Marsiglia, Nieri, & Crossman, 2007). Gil and colleagues hypothesized that the higher severity of substance use in lower acculturated youth may be due to various factors including having families that are experiencing a great deal of distress as they attempt to adjust to the host country and/or a higher likelihood that these youth have experienced greater levels of life traumas prior to their migration (e.g., exposure to civil wars, family disruptions, etc.). Another hypothesis is that cultural practices from their culture of origin may encourage substance use in immigrant youth. For example, cultural researchers highlight that alcohol use may be more so a part of the Hispanic culture. This is evidenced by less restrictive views of alcohol, cultural sanctioned fiesta drinking (binge drinking followed by long periods of abstinence), and skewed perceptions of machismo which encourage increased drinking as a means to define one’s “manliness”. Strongly identified Hispanic youth may have increased exposure and cultural acceptance of use. Therefore, activities that encourage cultural identification and engagement in cultural practices may actually encourage alcohol abuse (Gil & Vasquez, 1996). One goal of the current study is to address the previous inconsistencies about the direction of the relationship between different aspects of acculturation and immigrant substance use and intentions to use by examining these relationships in Northeastern Latino immigrant high school freshmen.

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In addition, social learning has been found to contribute to the onset of substance abuse behaviors for youth. Particularly for immigrant youth, detrimental changes in parental control and changes in family structure (e.g. absence of the youth’s father due to elongated family separations related to immigration) can lead to more peer influences, which may put them at increased risk for substance use. According to Velez and Ungemack (1995), who looked at social psychological risk factors for substance use (such as tolerance of deviance, parental control, respect for school) amongst Puerto Rican youth, peer modeling was found to be the greatest predictor of their drug involvement. Research also shows that immigrant youth are particularly vulnerable to peer pressure. Blake, Ledsky, Goodenow, and O’Donnell (2001) found that newly immigrated youth (defined as those living in the U.S. 6 years or less) were likely to have less parental support to avoid risk behavior and most likely to experience peer pressures to engage in risk behavior (e.g. lifetime and proximal substance use). Recent immigrant youth also report lack of confidence to refuse substances (Blake et al., 2001). This peer pressure and decreasing parental support may hasten their participation in what they see as host culture behaviors and norms (e.g., adolescent drug use). Thus, it will be interesting to examine the relative contributions of acculturation and parent and peer influences on substance use. Another goal of the current study is simultaneously to consider the contributions that other common risk factors make while exploring the relationships between different aspects of acculturation and immigrant adolescents’ substance use (Bry, McKeon, & Pandina, 1982; Wills, Vaccaro, & McNamara, 1992). Specifically, the influence of drug using friends and poor relationships with parents, will be included in this study of immigrant youth. A final goal of this study is to add immigrant youth’s sense of school

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belonging to acculturation, relationship with parents, and friends’ drug use to see if one’s relationship with school plays an additional and unique role in understanding substance use. There is growing research investigating the role of school factors and outcomes, particularly academic outcomes, for immigrant adolescents (Sanchez, Colon, & Esparza, 2005). There is far less known about the role of school bonding and acculturation in the development of substance abuse for immigrant students. Thus this study will begin to explore the relative contributions of these factors. First, literature on immigration, acculturation and sense of school belonging will be reviewed. Immigration In the last decade the U.S. has experienced a surge in immigration. Approximately 8 million immigrants have come to the United States since 2000 and the immigrant population (legal and illegal) in the U.S. currently totals 37.9 million (approximately12% of the total population) (Camarota, 2007). These immigration figures are more than double of those seen in the “last great immigration wave” of 1910. Immigrant children and their families enter and stay in the United States in the following ways: legal immigration (usually involves the acquisition of a visa, followed by a green card and subsequently U.S. citizenship), humanitarian admission (as refugees and asylees, statuses that are also legal), or illegal entry (as either visa overstayers or undocumented immigrants). Contrary to prevalent public opinion and bias, most of the foreign-born persons living in the United States (85%) are in the country legally. The immigrant population coming to America today compared to previous immigration waves is much more widely ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse. Although immigrants have come to the United States from nearly 100 different countries, most

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come from Latin America and Asia. Once in America, many immigrants settle in disadvantaged communities and experience high levels of poverty. Approximately 17% immigrants and their U.S.-born children (under 18) live in poverty. This figure is nearly double the rate of poverty for natives and their children (Camarota, 2007). No other American institution has felt the effect of this migration as the nation’s public school system. Immigration now accounts for almost all of the national increase in public school enrollment since the 1990s (Camarota, 2001). Projected estimates indicate that the total school-age population, persons aged 5-14 years, will grow to 42 million in 2010 and children of immigrants will account for more than 50% of this growth (Fix & Passel, 1994). The very face of schooling is changing as foreign-born and second- generation immigrant children arrive, bringing rich diversity and creating new challenges for schools and communities to appropriately address this diverse population presenting with highly varied cultural, racial, and linguistic identities. Migration is often a complex journey with many losses and gains. The process of migration usually occurs in three phases (Drachman, 1992). The pre-migration phase is the period of time before one migrates from one’s country-of-origin. It usually refers to the time period where the individual and/or family is contemplating and preparing for leaving. Children and adolescents are not often included or have limited participation in this phase of the migration experience. The decision to leave is usually made by others, such as parents/guardian. This experience can be quite traumatizing in itself to a child, who can view it as forced. This period could last for months to years and reflects some of the reasons immigrants have chosen to leave their country. Reasons for leaving one’s country range from fleeing political/religious persecution to finding better employment

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and educational opportunities in the host country. For example, many of the countries that form the largest group of immigrant-sending countries have been involved in civil conflict for decades. In parts of South America, such as Colombia, people have experienced conflict involving rebel guerrilla groups, paramilitary militias, and violence for over 40 years. Many of these individuals have witnessed and/or experienced traumatic events. Additionally, many immigrants come from places where they have been prosecuted for religious belief (e.g., Christians in North Nigeria) and/or ethnic identity (ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka). These individuals and families have experienced a large degree of trauma, pain, loss, and suffering. A study of the Tamil immigrant community in Canada found that individuals who have been in refugee camps have experienced multiple previous trauma and are at increased risk for poor mental health outcomes, such as depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and alcohol abuse (Beiser, Simich, Pandalangat, 2003). During the transit/intermediate phase, individuals and families may experience a range of traumatic experiences. They may experience an illegal border crossing (as attempted by persons from Central America), extended stays in detention centers or jails awaiting governmental deportation or entry decisions/procedures, complicated travel plans (going several places before entering the U.S.) and/or long separation from family members (e.g. one family member coming to U.S. at a time). Huyuck and Fields (1981) found the latter, parent-child separations, place six- to 11-year- olds, especially refugee boys, at the most psychological risk. For example, several studies have found that Cambodians who lived in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge Cambodian democide (1970-1980) had experienced multiple major trauma experiences (Kinzie, Sack, & Riley, 1994; Realmuto, Ann, Hubbard, Groteluschen, & Chhun, 1992).

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Two decades following these traumatic experiences, Khmer Cambodians continue to suffer high rates of PTSD (62%) and depression (51%) (Marshall, 2005). Finally, the resettlement phase includes the level of cumulative stress experienced by the individual and/or family, the discrepancy between expectations of quality life and actual quality of life in the United States, and the socio-cultural reception of the host country and neighborhood. This experience can be extremely stressful. In sum, the well being of immigrants and their families is impacted not only by past conditions (e.g., violence, trauma), but also by social factors related to resettlement, such as change social roles, receptivity of the host country, poverty, racism and discrimination, and language and cultural differences. For example, the current socio-political sentiment and policies in the U.S. may further traumatize immigrants/refugees and their families. One such traumatizing policy is the detention of immigrants following raids. In 2007 alone, ICE agents arrested 30,408 immigrants (Preston, 2008). A report released by the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and the Urban Institute found that for every two people detained in immigration enforcement operations, one child is left behind. A majority of these children are U.S. citizens, younger than 10 years old and are greatly impacted by this experience. Severe disruptions that result from raids, such as family separation, school absences, child exploitation and neglect, can then lead to socio-emotional and behavioral problems for these children. Separation from arrested parents can cause anxiety and fear in some children, especially because the arrests often happen suddenly and unexpectedly. Additionally, community-wide fear can also contribute to distress in children in these communities (Capps, Castañeda, Chaudry, & Santos, 2007).

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Immigrant children and adolescents with extended trauma experience, family separations, and/or difficult post migration adjustment are at particular risk for developing problems. Children and adolescents’ migration risk can be mediated by such factors as their parent’s mental health, their own individual resilience, and perceived family, peer and community support. Even when immigrant and refugee children do not directly experience and/or witness trauma and violence in their country of origin, they are still at risk. Family stress and mental health, particularly, parental mental health, was found to be associated with poor mental health in newly immigrated children of Turkish, Chilean, Lebanese, and Iranian refugee families in Sweden (Hjern, Angel, & Jeppson, 1998). Acculturation The psychosocial adjustment that follows emigration to the U.S. can be challenging for many immigrant adolescents. This adjustment is often labeled “acculturation.” Acculturation as a concept has gone through reformulations over the years. Acculturation first appeared in the in the field of anthropology and has been studied extensively by various fields, from psychology to communications and marketing. It was first defined by Redfield, Linton, and Herskovits (1936) as "…those phenomena which result when groups of individuals having different cultures come into continuous first-hand contact, with subsequent changes in the original cultural patterns of either or both groups" (Redfield, Linton, & Herskovits, 1936, p.149). Subsequent definitions acknowledged that the culture change is initiated by the conjunction of two or more autonomous cultural systems; include selective adaptive of values; occurs in individuals whose primary learning has been in one culture; and include the adoption of

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traits of the host culture (Social Science Research Council, 1954; Marden & Meyer, 1968). Kim and Berry’s reformulations of acculturation have greatly contributed to current acculturation research. Kim (1992) conceptualized the acculturation process as “an interactive and continuous process that evolves in and through the communication of an immigrant with the new socio-cultural environment”. As the immigrant’s ability to communicate with the new environment increases, their level of acculturation increases (Kim, 1992). As Kim focused on communication, Berry focused attention on the impact of behavior changes that occur as an immigrant acculturates. Berry (1977) asserts that in practice, acculturation tends to produce more substantial change in one of the groups. Both agreed that the changes the immigrant experiences are insignificantly greater than the changes that the host culture experiences (Kim, 1985). This is generally due to the immigrants’ need to adapt to the host culture and thrive in a new environment. Today most researchers and research prescribe to the bi-dimensional model of acculturation. The model posits that acculturation entails two co-occurring behavioral changes: (1) losing behaviors, beliefs, practices, and values specific to their minority culture, and simultaneously (2) gaining behaviors, beliefs, practices, and values of the host culture, thereby resulting in four possible outcomes (Berry, 1980, 1989, 1997; Berry, Portinga, Segall, & Dasen, 1992; Birman, 1994; Chun, Organista, & Marin, 2003). These outcomes can include the following: ethnic minorities (a) remaining immersed in their native culture (Separated, Traditional); (b) fully adopting the host culture (Acculturated, Assimilated); (c) immersing equally in both cultures (Bicultural); or (d) immersing in

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neither culture (Marginalized). In this model, immigrants can be located along both the native and the host cultural dimensions (Chun, Organista, & Marin, 2003). Generally, the concept of acculturation has been measured in various ways in the research field. Some factors (alone and/or in combination) that have been considered in its measurement are language, cultural identity, and religion (Laroche, Kim, & Tomiuk, 1998; Lee & Um, 1992; Lew & Vigil, 1987; Peñaloza, 1989; Suinn, Rickard-Figueroa, & Hirschman, 1981). Communication based measures, such as hours spent listening to Spanish radio, have also been used (Kim, Laroche, & Joy, 1990; O’Guinn & Faber, 1985). Specific research survey questions assessing acculturation measure use of English vs. another language at home, with friends and at school; completion of the research survey in English vs. another language; native born vs. foreign born; and number of years of residence in the U.S. (Perez-Stable et al. 2001; Yu, Huang, Schwalber, Overpeck, & Kogan 2002). These studies generally use Likert-scale questions that conceptually assess, define and examine acculturation as a uni-dimensional construct, ranging from low to high acculturation. Though there are limitations to the linear model of acculturation, numerous findings provide supporting evidence that this model represents a reliable proximal measure of acculturation. Proxy measures of acculturation using the linear model have been shown to be significantly associated with multidimensional measures of acculturation and other psychosocial variables (e.g., Cuellar, Arnold, & Maldonado, 1995; Epstein, Botvin, Dusenbury, Diaz, & Kerner, 1996; Mendoza, 1989; Sabogal, Marin, Otero-Sabagol, Marin, & Perez-Stable, 1987). Common and supported proxy

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measures include number of years in the country, cultural acculturation and language use. Acculturation and adolescent substance use The relationship between acculturation and drug use among ethnic adolescents has been studied with equivocal results. Higher levels of acculturation, as defined by low levels of familism, ethnic identification and/or language preference, have been associated with drug use and delinquency among Puerto Rican, Mexican American, and African American youth (Brook, Whiteman, Balka, Win, & Guersen, 1998; Marsiglia & Waller, 2002), drug use among Hispanic girls at risk for suicide (Fraser, Piacentini, Van Rossem, Hien, & Rotheram-Borus, 1998), and smoking among male, Puerto Rican high school students (Smith, McGraw, & Carrillo, 1991). In two separate studies, Brook et al. (1998) and Barrett, Joe, and Simpson (1991) respectively found that acculturation had only a weak and indirect effect on Hispanic youth substance use; and Bonnheim and colleagues found no relationship between acculturation and inhalant use among Hispanic youth (Bonnheim & Korman, 1985; Simpson & Barrett, 1991), general substance use (Barrett et al., 1991), or smoking among Hispanic adolescents. The immigration process creates challenges for all immigrants, but as result of the psychosocial stage adolescents maybe at particular risk. During the immigration and resettlement process youth precariously struggle with conflicting social and cultural demands of their native culture and the host culture, whilst managing the accompanying normative identity crises of adolescence. This stress (referred to as acculturative stress) is often linked to the development of psychological distress, such as depression, anxiety and/or substance abuse. Youth who experience acculturative stress may exhibit

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behavioral problems in school and underachieve socially and academically (Kopola & Esquivel, 1994). Vega and colleagues assert that academic failure, which is linked to behavioral problems in school and academic underachievement, is a precursor to increasing development of attitudes which favor “deviant behavior and drift into drug-using peer groups” (Vega, Zimmerman, Warheit, & Gil, 2002, p.25). Additional variables that may increase acculturative stress in immigrant children include migration, poverty, previous education, language, and school and parental involvement (Nunez & Gary, 2004). In sum, immigrant adolescents may be at increased risk for psychological distress related to acculturation because they are already in the midst of a sometimes precarious developmental life stage, in which they are already struggling with identity issues, emotional development, and peer/familial relationships. This distress exposes them to risk factors, such as academic failure and deviant peers, that lead to increased substance use risk. Sense of school belonging According to the most recent data, one in nine students in the U.S. public schools is an English language learner (ELL). ELL students are “students who speak English either not all at or with enough limitations that he or she cannot fully participate in mainstream English instruction” (Goldenberg, 2008). ELL students are often immigrants themselves and/or come from immigrant families. Among middle and high school ELLs, 56% were born in the U.S and approximately 80% of ELLs’ parents were born outside of the U.S. (Goldenberg, 2008). The majority of ELL students are Spanish speakers (80%), followed by those who speak Asian languages. Recent studies of immigrant secondary

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education programs identified ELL student subpopulations about whom there are specific concerns. First is the set of immigrant students who arrive as teens. They must overcome such obstacles as the impact of interrupted schooling in their home countries on their academic and linguistic abilities (in both their native language and the host country’s language). The time available for these particular students to become proficient in the new language and reach the level of achievement needed to graduate high school is limited. This is an especially difficult obstacle to overcome because on average it takes between four to seven years for ELL students to become proficient in “academic English” (Collier, 1995; Francis, Rivera, Lesaux, Keiffer, & Rivera., 2006; Genesee, Lindholm- Leary, Saunders, & Christian, 2006; Hakuta, Butler, & Witt, 2000; Moore & Zainuddin 2003; Oakeley, Urrabazo, & Yang, 1998). The second population of emerging concern among educators can be classified as “long- term ELLs.” This population is composed of ELL/immigrant adolescent who reach high school after having “graduated” from special language service programs (ESL or bilingual). They graduated these programs without being literate enough in English to meet state or local criteria for promotion from ELL status. It is hypothesized that these students may not also be literate in their native language as well, making it very difficult to learn a new language. High dropout rates among ELL (often an indicator of being an immigrant themselves or child of an immigrant) high school students put them at increased risk for substance use. School could play a role in reducing substance use risk for this population by beginning to examine the economic (e.g. poverty), cultural (e.g., acculturation), individual (e.g., acculturative stress), and social problems (low school

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bonding) that immigrant adolescents face and develop culturally specific prevention programs that would keep them in school. For most youth, school plays a significant role in their lives and development. On average, an adolescent spends the majority of their time at school and/or involved in school related activities. For immigrant students, schools are the first sustained point of contact with the new culture. As stated before, immigrant adolescents may have been exposed to many stressors during their pre-migration and resettlement experiences that affect their psychological well being and adjustment, hence impacting their school behavior and performance. For these children, the school environment, in conjunction with the family environment, is the most important place where intervention and prevention efforts can take place. The Surgeon General has identified schools as “a major setting for the potential recognition of psychological difficulties in children and adolescents” (Department of Health and Human Services, 1999); hence schools should be an essential environment to study in immigrant adolescent development and the prevention of problem behaviors among this group. Schools also become an important environment in a youth’s life as the need for belonging, social support, and acceptance with peers and other adults becomes more important during middle and high school years (Goodenow, 1993a). As young people begin to think about and experiment with their individual and social identities and goals, they need to feel that they belong to social groups outside of their families. Because this period involves exploring aspects of personal identity apart from parents and family, adolescents come to spend more time, physically and emotionally in contexts involving non-familial peers (e.g., friends) and other significant adult figures (e.g., teachers)

Full document contains 75 pages
Abstract: Substance use in immigrant youth frequently has been associated with different aspects of acculturation. There is inconsistency in the literature, however, about the direction of these relationships. Furthermore, seldom has the role of acculturation been examined in the context of other common substance use correlates, such as peer use and relationship with parents. Finally, the possible contribution of sense of school belonging previously has not been considered along with acculturation, peer use, and parent relationships, in explaining substance use and intentions to use in immigrant adolescents. Thus, the current study examined the extent to which levels of language and cultural acculturation, years in the country, sense of school belonging, relationship with parents, and friends' use would account for their use and intentions to use substances in a sample of 166 Northeastern ninth grade urban Latino immigrant adolescents. Regression analysis revealed that language acculturation, sense of school belonging, and friends' use were significantly associated with adolescent substance use and intentions to use. Consistent with past research in the general adolescent population, Latino immigrant youth who had fewer friends who use substances and had higher levels of school bonding/sense of school belonging were less likely to report using substances and/or having intentions to use. Contrary to previous literature examining non-clinical immigrant youth, the current study found that higher use of native language (low language acculturation) also predicted students' use and intentions to use.