Celebrating the strengths of Black youth: Increasing self-esteem and implications for prevention

Okeke-Adeyanju, N., Taylor, L. C., Craig, A. B., Smith, R. E., Thomas, A., Boyle, A. E., & DeRosier, M. E. (2014). Celebrating the strengths of black youth: Increasing self-esteem and implications for prevention. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 35(5), 357-369.


Decades of research link African American youths’ high self-esteem and positive racial identity with their academic success, behavioral adjustment, and positive emotional functioning. Given the race-related disparities for health and well-being found in children of color in the United States, it is particularly critical to understand the protective function of self-esteem and positive racial identity among these youth. Recent data highlight disparities in health and well-being experienced by children based on their race/ethnicity. We found that African American children with U.S.-born parents faced the highest overall levels of risk, compared to all other ethnic/racial and immigrant groups, on indicators including poverty, health status, educational performance and attainment, and family risk factors. Despite improvements in race relations in the U.S. in recent years, there remains significant work to be done to improve the development of these youth.


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