New research by a California State University, Northridge psychology professor underscores the important role relationships within neighborhoods play in the development and success of adolescents.
That’s the conclusion CSUN’s Meeta Banerjee made — along with collaborators Dawn Witherspoon, professor of psychology at Pennsylvania State University, and Deborah Rivas-Drake, professor of psychology at University of Michigan — in the recently published study “It’s More the Exception Rather Than the Rule: African-American Families’ Neighborhoods and Youth’s Academic Performance During Middle School.” The team studied African-American students in Baltimore and found that students with positive social relationships in their communities were more successful in school, despite disparities faced, including lack of capital and resources.
“There need to be networks, especially for kids who don’t [see] a lot of [classmates with] their ethnic backgrounds in their school,” Banerjee said. “Role models in the neighborhood may not be the same as who is in the house. Having general conversations and role models around can provide cohesion that is social and structural. When we don’t have those things, it becomes a place where you think, ‘What is the neighborhood?’ Kids pick up on those things.”
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