The Society for Social Work and Research

2013 Annual Conference

January 16-20, 2013 I Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina I San Diego, CA

Predictors of Social Competence Among African American Teenagers Participating in a Sport-Based Youth Development Program

Friday, January 18, 2013
Grande Ballroom A, B, and C (Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina)
* noted as presenting author
René Olate, PhD, Assistant Professor, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Allison Riley, MSW, Graduate Research Assistant, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Annahita Ball, PhD, Assistant Professor, Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge, Baton Rouge, LA
Dawn Anderson-Butcher, PhD, Professor, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
BACKGROUND & PURPOSE: It is estimated that twenty percent of youth are lacking social competence, particularly minority youth and youth from low income families. These youth are often exposed to several contextual cumulative risk factors and stressors, including greater difficulty accessing quality education and health care. Within these challenging contexts, navigating the social environment successfully is key for positive youth development. Given that poor social competence is associated with a host of negative outcomes, such as school failure, substance use, and related problem behaviors, it is critical to gain a better understanding of the predictors of this important developmental domain. Interventions designed to promote social competence often focus on youth learning a set of skills, such as self-control, cooperation, problem-solving, and assertiveness within different developmental contexts.  Social settings which focus on the physical domain, particularly sport-based programs, can be effective interventions for promoting social competence. The purpose of this study is to estimate the relative effects of demographic variables and several individual domains emphasized in a sport-based positive youth development (PYD) program in the prediction of general social competence among African American adolescents (ages 9-15) from disadvantaged urban communities.

METHODS:  Data were collected at pre- and post-participation in a large sport-based urban PYD program during the summer of 2011. A sample of African American adolescents (N=299, Age M=12, SD=1.6, male=62.5%), who make up the majority of the youth (72%) participating in the program, were selected for this study. Multiple logistic regression analyses were conducted with simultaneous entry of sociodemographic, personal, and family characteristics (age, gender, BMI, academic performance, and characteristics of the family and school) and several domains of social skills (self-control, effort, teamwork, social responsibility, athletic competence, transfer of skills; α=.86 to .92) to assess the effects on general social competence (1 =above 75% of the measure, 0 =below 75%).

RESULTS: Results from the logistic regression model pre-intervention indicate that Teamwork in Sport (OR=2.03; p<.001; 95% CI= 1.5 - 2.7), Transfer of Skills (OR=1.90; p=.001; 95% CI= 1.3 - 2.8), and General Athletic Abilities (OR=1.56; p=.025; 95% CI= 1.06 - 2.31) positively predicted general social competence. Results from the logistic regression model post intervention also indicate that Teamwork in Sport (OR=3.31; p<.001; 95% CI= 2.07 - 5.27), Transfer of Skills (OR=2.18; p=.012; 95% CI= 1.18 - 4.02), and General Athletic Abilities (OR=2.19; p=.011; 95% CI= 1.20 - 4.02) positively predicted general social competence. This model also indicates that Commitment to Sport (OR=.50; p=.034; 95% CI= .26 - .95) and receiving Lunch in School (OR=.47; p=.043; 95% CI= .22 - .98) negatively predicted general social competence.

CONCLUSIONS & IMPLICATIONS: The findings from this study highlight the importance of teamwork in sport, general athletic abilities, and the transfer of skills in fostering social competence among this specific vulnerable population. The results also suggest economic disadvantage (lunch in school) prevents the development of this positive youth domain. Commitment to sport as a negative predictor of social competence is an unexpected finding of this study. These results inform PYD programs and strategies.