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Hardness Scripts: High-Achieving African American Boys in a Chicago Charter School Navigating Community Violence and School

June 2016

From Journal of Community Psychology 

Youth exposure to violence, criminal activities and deviant peer affiliation may impact overall development and the transition into adulthood. Low income African American youth are disproportionately exposed to chronic stressors, but little is known about how they conceptualize challenges and success once they enter adulthood. The article examines how low income African Americans reflect on exposure to chronic stressors during adolescence that impact their description of challenges and successes in emerging adulthood. They interviewed thirteen African American males and females who are former participants of Chicago Youth Programs. Participants identified three challenges: neighborhood violence, familial stress and financial instability as barriers to success in emerging adulthood. Participants identified conditions that facilitated success in emerging adulthood: perseverance and access to Chicago Youth Programs. Understanding challenges and successes associated with emerging adulthood for low-income African Americans may lead to better informed support services for low income African Americans across the life course.