Friday, January 14, 2022
Marquis BR Salon 6, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
BACKGROUND/PURPOSE: Graduation from high school marks a dramatic developmental shift where youth may leave home for the first time. This period of emerging adulthood (EA) is a time of self-exploration as new opportunities for independence and autonomy arise; for some emerging adults (EAs) this may also contribute to instability, uncertainty, and anxiety, which can increase risk during this developmental time period. Research has found that violence exposure either increases (e.g., sexual harassment and victimization) or remains stable (e.g., bullying) in EA, compared to adolescence, but it may depend on the type of victimization experienced. This study used a longitudinal design to examine changes in experiences of bullying and sexual violence (SV) victimization among a sample of post-high school EAs who were exposed to a primary prevention program, Sources of Strength (Sources). We also examined whether Sources skills (e.g., healthy coping and help-seeking) buffered against these experiences given evidence that such adaptive skills may decrease violence exposure for young people. METHODS: Participants were 102 EAs (73.5% identifying as female, 36.3% as Latinx, and 22.6% as LGBQ), who completed surveys at three time points: one month prior to graduation and at 6- and 12-months post-graduation. A linear mixed effects model was used for each of the dependent variables (bullying and SV); independent variables included both informal and formal help-seeking and healthy coping. Fixed effects in the models included time, time invariant factors such as ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity, and time-varying predictors of informal help-seeking, formal help-seeking, and healthy coping. RESULTS: Results suggest that as youth transition into EA, experiences of bullying victimization were relatively low and slightly decreased whereas experiences of SV were also relatively low, but stable over time. Notably, bullying victimization was lower when female identifying participants, relative to male identifying participants, had higher levels of healthy coping. In addition, SV for participants identifying as non-white was higher at lower levels of coping than those identifying as white; however, at higher levels of coping, non-white participants reported lower rates of SV while rates were relatively stable for white participants at high and low levels of coping. Descriptive findings suggest higher rates of SV for LGBQ participants compared to their heterosexual-identifying peers, but no further differences by sexual orientation were found. CONCLUSIONS/IMPLICATIONS: These findings provide some support for Sources; engaging in healthy coping may protect young cisgender women from bullying and buffer against SV for racial and ethnic minoritized young adults. It appears healthy coping may be particularly protective for racial and ethnic minoritized young people. This is an important finding given that minoritized young adults may experience intensified effects of SV due to experiences of racial discrimination and often experience vastly different trauma exposures than their white counterparts including systemic inequities, microaggressions, segregation, and race-based stereotypes. Therefore, healthy coping for SV is a Sources skillset that may be protective for minoritized EAs, particularly for young Latina women, as prior research suggests that bolstering social support – a critical coping strategy promoted in Sources – reduces their SV risk.