Connectedness to family, school, peers, and community in socially vulnerable adolescents

Cynthia Ewell Foster*, Adam Horwitz, Alvin Thomas, Kiel Opperman, Polly Gipson, Amanda Burnside, Deborah M. Stone, Cheryl A. King

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations

Abstract

Youth who feel connected to people and institutions in their communities may be buffered from other risk factors in their lives. As a result, increasing connectedness has been recommended as a prevention strategy. In this study, we examined connectedness among 224 youth (ages 12–15), recruited from an urban medical emergency department, who were at elevated risk due to bullying perpetration or victimization, or low social connectedness. Regression analyses examined multiple domains of connectedness (family, school, peer, community) in relation to adjustment. Youth who felt more connected to parents reported lower levels of depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation, non-suicidal self-injury, and conduct problems, higher self-esteem and more adaptive use of free time. Youth who felt more connected to their school reported lower levels of depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation, social anxiety, and sexual activity, as well as higher levels of self-esteem and more adaptive use of free time. Community connectedness was associated with less social anxiety but more sexual activity, and peer connectedness was not related to youth adjustment in this unique sample. Findings suggest that family and school connectedness may buffer youth on a trajectory of risk, and may therefore be important potential targets for early intervention services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-331
Number of pages11
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Volume81
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2017

Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Connectedness
  • Emotional and behavioral problems
  • Protective factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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