Below: Conceptual model of relationships among race/ethnic marginalization, socioemotional distress, and substance use with student gender, race/ethnicity, and schoolwide race/ethnic diversity as moderators.
We investigated the links between race/ethnic marginalization (i.e., having few same-race/ethnic peers at school) and adolescents’ socioemotional distress and subsequent substance use (alcohol and marijuana) initiation and use. Data from 7,731 adolescents (52% females; 55% White, 21% African American, 16% Latino, 8% Asian American) were drawn from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health). In our path analysis model, we found that adolescents who were racial/ethnically marginalized at school (i.e., who had less than 15% same-ethnic peers) reported poorer school attachment, which was linked to greater depressive symptoms. More depressive symptoms were associated with higher levels of subsequent marijuana and alcohol use. These relationships showed some variation by students’ gender, race/ethnicity, and age. Findings suggest that the influence of school demographics extends beyond the academic domain into the health and well-being of young people.
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