Thursday, June 2, 2016
Garden Room A (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Latino youth are at increased risk for involvement in a number of risky behaviors that have deleterious impacts on health. Understanding the factors that precipitate engagement in risky behavior is critical to health equity. The Acculturation Gap-Distress Model posits that youth acculturate more quickly than parents, leading to a deterioration in family functioning and rise in youth maladjustment. However, this model neglects to acknowledge acculturation as a bidimensional process of host culture adoption and culture-of-origin maintenance. This study examines the distinct impact of the Mexican and Anglo acculturation gap on parental monitoring and adolescent risky behavior among Mexican-heritage parent-adolescent dyads (n=375) involved in a youth substance use prevention effectiveness trial. Middle schools in a large southwestern city (n=16) were recruited if they had a student population >60% Latino and received Title 1 funds. Schools were stratified into three blocks according to their proportion Latino and randomly assigned into three conditions prior to agreeing to participate. The analytic sample included 3 waves of parent-youth survey data. The majority of parents were immigrants (94%), but had lived in the U.S.>10 years (88%), and reported an annual household income <$25,000 (70%). A slight majority of youth was male (53%). The mean age was 12.7 years (SD=.74), and 80% were U.S.-born. Using a path analysis framework in Mplus, this study explored how parental monitoring mediates the relationship between the Mexican and Anglo acculturation gap and adolescent risky behavior. Based on the Acculturation Rating Scale for Mexican Americans-II, parents had significantly higher Mexican orientation scores (Mp = 4.41, SD = .85; Ma= 3.55, SD = .98); adolescents had significantly higher Anglo orientation scores (Ma = 4.00, SD = .61; Mp = 2.36, SD = .99). Controlling for parents’ education level, length of residence in the U.S., household income, adolescent sex, and treatment condition, the path analysis model (χ2(4) = 8.36, p = .08) indicated that when parents were more Mexican oriented relative to adolescents, parental monitoring decreased, which in turn predicted greater adolescent risky behavior (sum of indirect effects: β = .03, p < .01). However, when adolescents were more Anglo oriented relative to parents, parental monitoring increased, which was then related to less risky behavior (sum of indirect effects: β = -.02, p < .05). Findings suggest the Mexican gap is a risk factor for youth engagement in risky behavior through parental monitoring whereas the Anglo gap is protective through the same mechanism. This study builds on the Acculturation Gap-Distress Model and helps clarify the role of differential acculturation in youth maladjustment.