Risk and Resilience in Latinos

A Community-Based Participatory Research Study


      Latino youth in low-income households have a higher likelihood of poor educational and health outcomes than their peers. Protective factors, such as parental support, improve chances of success for youth. A community–academic partnership used community-based participatory research principles to examine perceptions of resilience among Latino young people in low-income households.


      Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted in 2007 with Latino young people living in an urban low-income housing complex (n=20); their parents (n=10); and representatives from local community-based organizations (n=8) to explore their definitions of youth “success,” and barriers to and facilitators of success. Interviews were audiotaped, transcribed, coded, and analyzed using content-analysis and grounded theory in 2007.


      Participants identified self, family, and community factors as potential sources of support. Parents appeared to de-emphasize community resources, expressing that success resulted primarily from a child's individual desire, bolstered by family support. All stakeholder groups perceived peers more as potential barriers to achieving success than as potential sources of support.


      These findings raise the possibility that in this community, low-income Latino parents' beliefs about community resources may act as a barrier to seeking assistance outside the family. Results also suggest that Latino youth recognize the benefits of interacting with adults outside the family and are accepting of help from the community. Resilience promotion programs in this population may benefit from engaging parents and community members in addition to young people. Parent-focused programs could explore parental beliefs about youth success, and youth programs could engage adult community members to generate positive interactions and messages.
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