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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 202152 Find in a Library
Title: Peer Social Structure and Risk-Taking Behaviors Among African American Early Adolescents
Journal: Journal of Youth and Adolescence  Volume:32  Issue:5  Dated:October 2003  Pages:375-384
Author(s): Shari Miller-Johnson; Philip R. Costanzo; John D. Coie; Mary R. Rose; Dorothy C. Browne; Courtney Johnson
Date Published: October 2003
Page Count: 10
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article examines the relation between adolescent risk-taking behavior and several dimensions of adolescent social structure.
Abstract: The purpose was to examine associations among peer status, deviant peer group membership, and type of peer leadership and early adolescent involvement in sexual behavior, substance use, and interpersonal violence. The hypotheses were (1) that the controversial status youth would be the most likely to engage in risk-taking behaviors; (2) that the more unconventional “trendsetting” type of leader would be more involved in risk-taking behaviors; and (3) that controversial status youth would be most likely to be involved in deviant groups and to serve in trendsetting leadership positions. Participants in the study were African-American 7th graders enrolled in a school-based intervention and evaluation project to reduce violence, substance use, and sexual behavior. Measures included peer-based sociometric ratings and youth self-reports of involvement in adolescent problem behaviors. The findings highlight an important relationship between controversial peer status and adolescent problem behaviors. A more unconventional peer group leader may be influential in promoting norms that support involvement in risk-taking behaviors. This trendsetter type of leader was also most likely to be of controversial peer status. These findings may be relevant to intervention efforts to reduce adolescent problem behaviors. Controversial status youth exhibited the highest rates of involvement in risky behaviors. These students, while disliked by some, were also highly accepted by others and quite visible in the peer culture. These youth typically possess many positive and effective social qualities even though they are likely to be highly disruptive and aggressive. The controversial status youth--not the rejected youth--were the unconventional peer leaders. Deviant peer involvement was associated with violence-related behavior and substance use but not with early sexual activity. 1 table, 9 footnotes, 36 references
Main Term(s): Adolescents at risk; Risk taking behavior
Index Term(s): Behavior patterns; Juvenile drug abusers; Peer assessment; Peer influences on behavior; Positive peer culture; Testing and measurement
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