Relative impact of violence exposure and immigrant stressors on Latino youth psychopathology


  • This research was supported by a Dissertation Research Grant from the University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States (UC MEXUS) and by a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (5T32MH067763) awarded to the first author.


Latino youth in a low-income urban community are at high risk of exposure to violence. Given an accumulation of factors before, during, and after migration, immigrant youth might be at increased risk of exposure to violence and other relevant stressors (e.g., acculturation stress, language proficiency, acculturation/enculturation, and parental separations). Utilizing a short-term longitudinal design, we assessed exposure to violence and immigrant stressors and examined their relative impact on psychopathology in a sample of 164 Latino youth. Immigrant youth reported greater exposure to immigrant stressors relative to native-born peers, but few differences in rates of exposure to violence emerged. When considered alongside relevant immigration stressors, exposure to violence emerged as the strongest predictor of youth psychopathology. Results suggest that some types of stressors have more consistently deleterious effects on mental health and understanding resilient outcomes might entail considering the meaning attributed to stressors and the resources available to cope with stressors. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.