Abstract: Maternal Caregiver Typologies and Internalized Behaviors in African American Adolescents Living in Urban Public Housing (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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Maternal Caregiver Typologies and Internalized Behaviors in African American Adolescents Living in Urban Public Housing

Friday, January 22, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Von Nebbitt, PhD, Associate Professor, Washington University in Saint Louis, St. Louis, MO
Margare Lombe, PhD
Chrisann Newransky, PhD, Assistant Professor, Adelphi University, Garden City, NY
Mansoo Yu, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, MO
Takashi Amano, MSW, Assistant Professor, Washington University in Saint Louis, St. Louis, MO
Background and Purpose: Maternal caregivers play an important role in influencing their adolescent children’s feelings and attitudes. An encouraging and supervising maternal caregiver may influence a youth’s beliefs, self-perception and even their mental health. Involved maternal caregiver may be important in neighborhoods with high exposures to community risks that may have deleterious effects on their internalized behaviors. Indeed, African American youth living in urban public housing face many challenges that may negatively impact attitudes, perceptions of self and mental health. Despite the vulnerability of these youth, the promotive role of the maternal caregiver in these youth lives has not been fully explored. The purpose of this study is to assess and explicate how, or whether, various classes of maternal care-givers are associated with adolescents’ self-efficacy, attitudes towards deviance and depressive symptoms. We advance two questions: 1) What are the latent classes of maternal types, if any, based upon youths’ self-reports on the mothers monitoring and encouraging behaviors? To what extent are maternal caregiver classes associated with youth’s attitude toward delinquency, youth’s efficacious beliefs and adolescent’s symptoms of depression?

Methods: Using a sample of 375 African American youth (average age = 15.5; SD=2.2) recruited from public housing in three large US cities, this attempts to rectify the observed gap in knowledge by assessing how variations in maternal caregiver types are associated with their adolescents’ child’s internalized behaviors (i.e., attitudes toward delinquent behaviors, efficacious beliefs and depressive symptoms). We use Latent Profile Analysis to identify various maternal caregiver classes. Then we used One-way ANOVA and a Multinominal Logistic Regression to assess means difference across classes and to assess whether or not youth could be correctly classified into maternal caregivers’ classes, respectively.

Results: Results identified three maternal caregiver classes. About 87% of the youth were correctly classified into maternal caregiver classes. Results also suggest that membership in higher types of maternal caregivers (high encouragement and high monitoring) were associated with more conventional attitudes, high self-efficacy and lower depressive symptoms. Implications for policy, scholarship and practice are discussed.

Conclusion & Implications: Findings from this study call attention to the important role maternal caregivers play in the welfare of their adolescent offspring in high risk environments. Given the negative consequences linked to anxiety and depressive symptoms for adolescents, results of this study underscore the need to identify protective processes that may reduce adolescents’ risk for internalizing behaviors. Maternal caregivers may be central to such interventions.