Adolescents experiencing chronic stress initiate ATOD at a younger age and use ATOD as a means of coping with stress rather than for social reasons (Leidy, 2010). An increasingly pervasive stressor experienced by LIY is FOD. Nearly 75% of LIY report living in constant fear of either being deported or having someone they know deported (Yoshikawa et al., 2017). Hope is a modifiable factor that may buffer against chronic stress among LIY. Empirical tests of Snyder’s theory of hope (2002) show that increases in hope promote behavioral actions and expand the perception of available coping resources, which result in an “undoing” effect on negative affect such as stress (Fredrickson, 2001).
Methods: This study uses a standardized self-report survey and a cross-sectional sample of 7th grade LIY (N=136), of which 50% are female, 86% receive free and reduced lunch, 67% were born in the U.S., and 26% took the survey in Spanish. Bivariate correlations examined the basic associations between the variables. A path model examined the hypothesized moderated mediation and tested the ability of stress to mediate the FOD to ATOD pathway, and the buffering effects of hope on the FOD to stress path and from the stress to ATOD path.
Results: A path model with a binary outcome found: (1) a marginally significant (p=.06) main effect for FOD on ATOD in the unconditional model; (2) a main effect for stress on ATOD, and that stress mediated the model (marginally significant p=.088), such that FOD was no longer significant; (3) hope significantly moderated the path from FOD to stress, and the path from stress to ATOD.
Conclusions: When hope is high, increases in FOD result in minute increases in stress. In contrast when hope is low, increases in FOD result in larger increases in stress, which increase the odds of engaging in ATOD. When stress increases, hope reduces the odds of stress being associated with engaging in ATOD use. Hope helps youth use available resources to cope with potential risks and create strategies that manage risk and maximize their opportunities. This provides a sense of control leading to greater well-being. While the federal policy threatening forced deportation is not likely to change soon, prevention interventions that increase hope can offset some of FOD’s deleterious effects including the early onset of ATOD.