Smokowski, P.R., Cotter, K.L., Robertson, C.I.B., & Guo, S. (2012). Anxiety and aggression in rural youth: Baseline results from the Rural Adaptation Project. Child Psychiatry and Human Development. Online first. doi:10.1007/s10578-012-0342-x

Abstract: There is little research on the prevalence of and risk factors for mental health disorders, including anxiety and aggression, for low income, rural youth. The research that does exist suggests that rural youth may be at increased risk for negative outcomes, including poor educational outcomes, drug use and possession of weapons among gang members, and alcohol use. Using multilevel logistic regression, we examined individual, family, and school risk and protective factors for adolescent anxiety and aggression in a large, racially diverse sample of 4,321 middle school students who came from two impoverished, rural counties in a Southeastern state. Parent-child conflict, negative peer relationships, and negative friend behaviors were key risk factors associated with both anxiety and aggressive behavior. The teacher turnover rate at school also was associated with both anxiety and aggression. Significant direct effects, cross-level moderation effects, and implications for prevention programming were discussed.

 

Smokowski, P.R., Evans, C.B.R, Cotter, K., & Guo, S. (2013). Ecological correlates of depression and self-esteem in rural youth. Journal of Child Psychiatry and Human Development. Online First. doi:10.1007/s10578-013-0420-8   See Full Article

Abstract: The current study examines individual- and school-level characteristics influencing depression and self-esteem among a large sample (N = 4,321) of U.S. youth living in two rural counties in the South. Survey data for this sample of middle-school students (Grade 6 to Grade 8) were part of the Rural Adaptation Project. Data were analyzed using ordered logistic regression. Results show that being female, having a low income, and having negative relationships with parents and peers are risk factors that increase the probability of reporting high levels of depression and low levels of self-esteem. In contrast, supportive relationships with parents and peers, high religious orientation, ethnic identity, and school satisfaction increased the probability of reporting low levels of depression and high levels of self-esteem. There were few school-level characteristics associated with depression and self-esteem. Implications are discussed.

 

Evans, C.B.R., Smokowski, P.R., & Cotter, K.L. (In Press). Demographic, psychological, and social correlates of ethnic identity in rural youth. Journal for the Society of social Work Research.

A strong ethnic identity is a protective factor that is associated with positive psychological functioning, high academic achievement, and high self-esteem. Increasing rural youths’ ethnic identity is critically important because this identity might mitigate risk factors affecting this vulnerable population. This study uses hierarchical regression analysis to investigate the demographic, psychological, and social correlates of ethnic identity in a large sample (N=3,418) of rural students in Grades 6 thru 8. Data were obtained from the Rural Adaptation Project, using the School Success Profile Plus survey. Results show that sources of social support (friends, parents, teachers, neighbors) are important predictors of high ethnic identity. Strong religious beliefs mediate the relationship of self-esteem with ethnic identity and are associated with increased ethnic identity. High levels of school satisfaction and a positive future orientation are positively associated with ethnic identity. Implications are discussed.

 

Cotter, K.L., Smokowski, P.R. & Robertson, C. (In Press). Contextual predictors of perception of school danger for rural youth: Baseline results from the Rural Adaptation Project. Children & Schools. See Full Article

Abstract: Students’ perceptions of school danger have been associated with several negative academic, behavioral, and developmental outcomes. However, little research has focused on which contextual factors influence rural youths’ perceptions of school danger. Through hierarchical regression analyses, the present study explored the relative importance of parent, peer, school experience, and neighborhood factors in predicting perception of school danger in a sample of low-income, ethnically diverse, rural youth. Of the included contextual predictor groups, results indicated that both peer and school experience predictors were the most influential contributors in explaining students’ perceptions of school danger. Results also revealed that the impact of friend support on school danger was mediated by school experience variables. Implication for intervention programming and further research were discussed.

 

Smokowski, P.R., Evans, C.B.R. & Cotter, K.L. (In Press). Differential effects of episodic and chronic bullying: How victimization affects school experiences, social support, and mental health. Violence and Victims.

Abstract: Scant literature exists examining the differential impacts of chronic and episodic physical and cyber bullying on youth, especially in rural settings. The current study augments and expands the existing literature by examining the school experiences, perceived social support, and mental health outcomes for 4 distinct groups of rural, middle-school youth. The groups consist of nonvictims, chronic victims, and two groups of episodic victims (i.e., victimized during Year 1 but not Year 2 and vice versa). The participants for this 2-year longitudinal study were 4,321 youth from 28 middle schools in 2 low-income, rural counties in the Southern United States. Findings illustrate that chronic/cumulative victimization results in the lowest levels of school satisfaction, school safety, perceived social support, future optimism, and self-esteem. Chronic/ cumulative victims also report the highest levels of peer rejection, anxiety, depression, and externalizing behaviors. Episodic-current year victimization is also a detrimental form of victimization followed by episodic-previous year victimization. Implications are discussed.

 

Cotter, K.L., Bacallao, M., Smokowski, P.R., & Robertson, C.I.B. (2013). Parenting interventions implementation science: How delivery format impacts the Parenting Wisely program. Research on Social Work Practice. Online First. doi:10.1177/1049731513490811   See Full Article

Abstract – Objectives: This study examines the implementation and effectiveness of Parenting Wisely, an Internet-based parenting skills intervention. The study assesses whether parents benefit from Parenting Wisely participation and whether the delivery format influences program effectiveness. Method: This study uses a quasi-experimental design. Participating parents (N ¼ 144) come from a rural, impoverished, ethnically diverse county in a Southeastern state. The intervention is delivered via four formats: parents-only intensive workshop, parents-only 5-week group, parent and adolescent 5-week group, and parent and adolescent online format. Results: Findings show an association between Parenting Wisely participation and improvements in family problem solving, family roles, family involvement, parenting self-efficacy, parenting sense of competence, and decreased adolescent violent behavior. Effect sizes vary by delivery format. Conclusion: Positive program effects vary by delivery format and outcome. Practice implications are discussed.

 

Smokowski, P.R., Cotter, K.L., Robertson, C.I.B., & Guo, S. (2013). Demographic, psychological, and school environment correlates of bullying victimization and school hassles in rural youth. Journal of Criminology. Online First. doi:10.1155/2013/137583   See Full Article

Abstract: Little is known about bullying in rural areas. The participants in this study included 3,610 racially diverse youth (average age = 12.8) from 28 rural schools who completed the School Success Profile-Plus. Binary logistic regression models were created to predict bullying victimization in the past 12 months and ordered logistic regression was used to predict School Hassles in the past 12 months. Overall, 22.71% of the sample experienced bullying victimization and school victimization rates ranged from 11% to 38%. Risk factors for bullying victimization included: younger students and students experiencing depression and anxiety. Being female, Hispanic/Latino, or African American was associated with lower bullying victimization. Thirty-nine percent of the sample reported a high level of school hassles. Younger students and students with higher levels of anxiety and depression were at increased risk for school hassles. Students from larger schools reported high levels of school hassles, while students from schools with more teachers with advanced degrees reported fewer school hassles.

 

Smokowski, P.R., Guo, S., Rose, R., Evans, C.B.R., & Cotter, K.L. (In Press). Multilevel risk and protective factors for internalizing symptoms and self-esteem in disadvantaged adolescents: Modeling developmental trajectories from the rural adaptation project. Development and Psychopathology.See Full Article

Abstract: The aim of this study was to examine if family system dynamics (e.g., parent mental health, marriage quality, conflict, cohesion) that have often been overlooked when studying Latino families play a more important role in predicting adolescent internalizing symptoms than acculturation processes. Data comes from the Latino Acculturation and Health Project (LAHP), a longitudinal investigation of acculturation in Latino families in North Carolina and Arizona (Smokowski & Bacallao, 2006). Researchers conducted in depth, community-based interviews with 258 Latino adolescents and 258 of their parents in metropolitan, small town, and rural areas. Interviews were conducted at four time points at intervals of approximately six months. Parent and adolescent ratings of the adolescent’s internalizing symptoms were used as the dependent variable in a longitudinal hierarchical linear model with a rater effects structure. Results showed that parent-adolescent conflict and parent mental health (fear of social situations and humiliation) were significant predictors of adolescent internalizing symptoms. Acculturation indicators, other than an inverse relationship with time spent in the United States, were not significant predictors. Females and adolescents from lower SES families reported more internalizing symptoms while participants who had been in the United States longer reported fewer internalizing symptoms. Implications were discussed.

 

Smokowski, P.R., Evans, C.B.R., Cotter, K.L., & Webber, K.C. (2013). Ethnic identity and mental health in American Indian youth: Examining mediation pathways through self-esteem and future optimism. Journal of Youth and Adolescence. Online First. doi:10.1007/s10964-013-9992-7 See Full Article

Abstract: Mental health functioning in American Indian youth is an understudied topic. Given the increased rates of depression and anxiety in this population, further research is needed. Using multiple group structural equation modeling, the current study illuminates the effect of ethnic identity on anxiety symptoms, depressive symptoms, and externalizing behavior in a group of Lumbee adolescents and a group of Caucasian, African American, and Latino/Hispanic adolescents. This study examined two possible pathways (i.e., future optimism and self-esteem) through which ethnic identity is associated with adolescent mental health. The sample (N = 4,714) is 28.53 % American Indian (Lumbee) and 51.38 % female. The study findings indicate that self-esteem significantly mediated the relationships between ethnic identity and anxiety symptoms, depressive symptoms, and externalizing behavior for all racial/ethnic groups (i.e., the total sample). Future optimism significantly mediated the relationship between ethnic identity and externalizing behavior for all racial/ethnic groups and was a significant mediator between ethnic identity and depressive symptoms for American Indian youth only. Fostering ethnic identity in all youth serves toenhance mental health functioning, but is especially important for American Indian youth due to the collective nature of their culture.

 

Smokowski, Paul R.; Cotter, Katie L.; Robertson, Caroline I. B.; and Shenyang Guo.  (2012).  Anxiety and Aggression in Rural Youth: Baseline Results from the Rural Adaptation Project. Child Psychiatry and Human Development.  See Full Article

Abstract: There is little research on the prevalence of and risk factors for mental health disorders, including anxiety and aggression, for low income, rural youth. The research that does exist suggests that rural youth may be at increased risk for negative outcomes, including low educational achievement, drug use and possession of weapons among gang members, and alcohol use. Using multilevel logistic regression, we examined individual, family, and school risk and protective factors for adolescent anxiety and aggression in a large, racially diverse sample of 4,321 middle school students who came from two impoverished, rural counties in a Southeastern state. Parent–child conflict, negative peer relationships, and negative friend behaviors were key risk factors associated with both anxiety and aggressive behaviors. The teacher turnover rate at school was also associated with both anxiety and aggression. Significant direct effects, cross-level moderation effects, and implications for prevention programming were discussed.

 

Smokowski, P.R., Evans, C.B.R., & Cotter, K.L. (2014). The Differential Impacts of Episodic, Chronic, and Cumulative Physical Bullying and Cyberbullying: The Effects of Victimization on the School Experiences, Social Support, and Mental Health of Rural Adolescents Violence and VictimsSee Full Article

Abstract – Objectives: This study examines the implementation and effectiveness of Parenting Wisely, an Internet-based parenting skills intervention. The study assesses whether parents benefit from Parenting Wisely participation and whether the delivery format influences program effectiveness. Method: This study uses a quasi-experimental design. Participating parents (N ¼ 144) come from a rural, impoverished, ethnically diverse county in a Southeastern state. The intervention is delivered via four formats: parents-only intensive workshop, parents-only 5-week group, parent and adolescent 5-week group, and parent and adolescent online format. Results: Findings show an association between Parenting Wisely participation and improvements in family problem solving, family roles, family involvement, parenting self-efficacy, parenting sense of competence, and decreased adolescent violent behavior. Effect sizes vary by delivery format. Conclusion: Positive program effects vary by delivery format and outcome. Practice implications are discussed.

Manuscripts Under Review

Smokowski, P.R., Robertson, C.I.B. & Cotter, K.L. (Under Review). Cumulative bullying victimization:  An investigation of the dose-response relationship between victimization and the associated mental health outcomes, social supports, and school experiences of rural adolescents. Children and Youth Services Review. See Full Article

Abstract: Few studies have examined the impacts of past, current, and chronic physical bullying and cyberbullying on youth, especially in rural settings. This study augments this scant literature by exploring the school experiences, social support, and mental health outcomes for rural, middle school youth. The participants for this 2-year longitudinal study were 3,127 youth from 28 middle schools. Participants were classified as nonvictims, past victims (i.e., victimized during Year 1 but not Year 2), current victims (i.e., victimized during Year 2 but not Year 1), and chronic victims (i.e., victimized during both Year 1 and Year 2). Findings illustrated that chronic victimization resulted in the lowest levels of school satisfaction, social support, future optimism, and self-esteem. Chronic victims also reported the highest levels of school hassles, perceived discrimination, peer rejection, anxiety, depression, and externalizing behaviors. In terms of episodic victimization, current year victimization was associated with
worse outcomes than past year victimization. Implications and limitations were discussed.

 

Smokowski, P.R., Bacallao, M., Cotter, K., & Evans, C.B.R. (Under Review). The effects of parenting on adolescent mental health outcomes in a sample of rural youth. Child Psychiatry and Human Development.

Abstract: The quality of parent-child relationships has a significant impact on adolescent developmental outcomes, especially mental health. Although it is common for parent and adolescent accounts of their relationship to differ, research suggests that adolescent accounts are more accurate in terms of predicting adolescent outcomes. Therefore, it is important to gain additional insight into how adolescents’ perceptions of parent-child relationships impact their mental health functioning over time. Given the lack of research on rural adolescent mental health in general and rural parent-child relationships in particular, the current study explores how rural adolescents’ (N= 2,616) perceptions of parent-child relationships longitudinally effects their mental health (i.e. anxiety, depression, self-esteem, aggression, future orientation, and school satisfaction). Findings indicate that in general Year 1 mental health outcomes are directly related to Year 2 mental health outcomes and also serve as mediators for many of the parenting variables. In addition, Year 1 parenting variables mediate the relationship between Year 2 parenting and Year 2 mental health outcomes. Implications are discussed.

 

Smowkowski, P.R., Evans, C.B.R., Cotter, K.L., & Bacallao, M. (Under Review). Individual Characteristics, Microsystem Factors, and Proximal Relationship Processes Associated with Ethnic Identity in Rural Youth. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology.

Abstract: Even though strong ethnic identity is associated with positive psychological functioning and high academic achievement, few studies have, examined factors associated with ethnic identity of rural youths. Social identity theory was used as a guide for the current study, integrating ecological systems theory to frame the study’s focus on how transactions and social relationships across microsystems relate to ethnic identity. This study uses hierarchical regression analysis to investigate which individual characteristics, microsystem factors, and proximal relational processes are associated with ethnic identity in a large sample (N = 3,418) of rural students in Grades 6 through 8 (mean age 12.8 years, 46.77% male) who participated in the Rural Adaptation Project in 2011. Results show that adolescents from racial/ethnic minority groups report higher levels of ethnic identity than Caucasian adolescents. We find high levels of ethnic identity are related to individual characteristics, including speaking a language other than English in the home, and having high levels of optimism for the future. In contrast, we find characteristics such as gender and socioeconomic disadvantage are not related to ethnic identity. For microsystem transactions, religious orientation was positively associated with ethnic identity. The relationship between self-esteem and ethnic identity was not statistically significant once religious orientation was added to the regression model. Other microsystem transactions positively associated with ethnic identity include high levels of both school satisfaction and perceived discrimination. Proximal processes in the form of social support (i.e., from parents, friends, teachers, neighbors) across multiple microsystems are associated with high levels of ethnic identity. Implications of these findings are discussed.

 

Smokowski, P.R., Rose, R., Evans, C.B.R., Cotter, K.L., Bower, M., & Bacallao, M. (Under Review). Familial influences on internalizing symptomology in Latino adolescents: A social learning analysis of parent mental health and acculturation dynamics. Developmental Psychopathology.See Full Article

Abstract: The aim of this study was to examine if family system dynamics (e.g., parent mental health, marriage quality, conflict, cohesion) that have often been overlooked when studying Latino families play a more important role in predicting adolescent internalizing symptoms than acculturation processes. Data comes from the Latino Acculturation and Health Project (LAHP), a longitudinal investigation of acculturation in Latino families in North Carolina and Arizona (Smokowski & Bacallao, 2006). Researchers conducted in depth, community-based interviews with 258 Latino adolescents and 258 of their parents in metropolitan, small town, and rural areas. Interviews were conducted at four time points at intervals of approximately six months. Parent and adolescent ratings of the adolescent’s internalizing symptoms were used as the dependent variable in a longitudinal hierarchical linear model with a rater effects structure. Results showed that parent-adolescent conflict and parent mental health (fear of social situations and humiliation) were significant predictors of adolescent internalizing symptoms. Acculturation indicators, other than an inverse relationship with time spent in the United States, were not significant predictors. Females and adolescents from lower SES families reported more internalizing symptoms while participants who had been in the United States longer reported fewer internalizing symptoms. Implications were discussed.

 

Manuscripts In Progress

Cotter, K.L., Evans, C.B.R., & Smokowski, P.R. (In Progress). Measuring adolescent violent behavior across groups.

 

Webber, K.C., Rizzo, C.F., Cotter, K.L., Evans, C.B.R., & Smokowski, P.R. (In Progress). Latent Profile analysis of school success in adolescents.

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