Abstract: WITHDRAWN ACEs, Positive Childhood Experiences, and Adolescent Functioning of 2nd and 3rd Generation Latinx Youth: A Longitudinal Analysis (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

WITHDRAWN ACEs, Positive Childhood Experiences, and Adolescent Functioning of 2nd and 3rd Generation Latinx Youth: A Longitudinal Analysis

Thursday, January 13, 2022
Liberty Ballroom O, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Rodolfo Salinas, MSW student, MSW student, University of Houston, Houston, TX
Sharon Borja, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, University of Houston, Houston, TX
Natalia Giraldo-Santiago, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of Houston, Houston, TX
J. Mark Eddy, PhD, Professor, University of Texas at Austin, Austin

The negative effects of ACEs on long-term trajectories of mental and physical health have been well established. Positive childhood experiences (PCEs) can buffer these negative effects and promote positive youth development. Current knowledge gaps exist in our understanding of how ACEs are linked to positive adolescent functioning (PAF) in terms of their capacities to engage, persevere, maintain optimism, interconnect, and feel happiness. Much less understood is how generational status may influence these relations within the migrant Latinx youth population. Informed by the Resilience Portfolio Model, our paper attempts to fill this gap by testing a longitudinal model that examined: (1) whether ACEs by age 9 are associated with PAF at 15 years old; (2) whether PCEs moderate the negative effects of ACEs on PAF; and (3) whether these relations differ between second generation (2gen) and third generation (3gen) Latinx youth in U.S. urban cities.


Multi-wave data came from the Fragile Families and Child Well-being Study (N=4,898) with a gender-balanced sample. PAF at 15 years was measured with five indicators: engagement, perseverance, optimism, connectedness, and happiness. ACEs is a sum of 11 adverse experiences from 0-9 years. PCEs were measured with 11 indicators of positive experiences at home, at school, and neighborhoods. Generational status was based on whether the youth's parent was foreign born or a U.S native. We conducted multiple regression to test the longitudinal associations between ACEs and PAF as moderated by PCEs and whether these associations vary by generation.


Our findings partially supported the hypothesized direct associations in our model. We found evidence regarding the moderating role of PCEs and their buffering effect and differences in these relations between 2gen and 3gen. ACEs were associated with four out of five indicators of PAF (perseverance, connectedness, optimism, and happiness but not engagement) where a higher ACE score was associated with less perseverance (beta = -.132), happiness (beta = -.207), optimism (beta=-.157), and connectedness (beta = -.158), but only for 3gen Latinx youth. For 2gen Latinx youth, higher ACEs were associated with engagement but not perseverance or connectedness. The moderating effect of PCEs was significant youth, where the effects of ACEs on engagement, perseverance, connectedness, and happiness diminished with higher PCEs but the effect was stronger for 2gen Latin youth than 3rd.


Study findings highlight the role of PCEs and generational status in the promotion of healthy behaviors among Latinx adolescents. Findings underscore the double jeopardy for youth who have high ACEs and low PCEs. Nevertheless, we found strong evidence that the effects of ACEs are not permanent. Even with high ACEs, PCEs could be protective factors. This is especially important for youth in migrant families at the intersection of race, poverty, limited school engagement and usage of services. Further examination into generational factors that mitigate adversity in Latinx youth is warranted. Results underscore that a one size fit all model may fall short in addressing some of the needs of youth from migrant families. Generation focused-interventions and policy implications will be discussed.