Exploring Purpose Development Within African American At-Risk Adolescents
Adolescents in at-risk contexts must navigate significant challenges that can lead to either negative developmental outcomes or resilient functioning. Low socio-economic status and violence have been identified as risk factors with significant negative effects on adolescent development. Experiencing disproportionate levels of poverty and violence in their communities, African American youth face greater developmental risk. Purpose has been identified as an important protective factor against such risk; yet, little is known about its unique expression among African American youth. Therefore, the current exploratory study examined purpose development in the lives of 15 African American youth identified as living within an at-risk environment. Semi-structured interviews were used to classify the developmental form of purpose for each adolescent. Despite their adverse circumstances, over half were able to identify specific engagement toward a purposeful pursuit that shaped their identities, were driving forces in their lives, and toward which they directed both current actions and future plans. Additionally, four themes associated with the personal narratives of the youth were identified as providing further insight into the role of purpose and its development among this population.
Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (PsyD)
Furrow, James L.
African American youth, African American teenagers, Social work with African American teenagers, Problem youth, Adolescence