A new study by Paul Smokowski and others has shown that Latino adolescents who embrace their native culture and have parents involved in U.S. culture have a greater chance of staying happy and healthy. Previous research has shown Latino youths face considerable risk factors when integrated into U.S. society. These include substance abuse and high rates of school dropouts:
“We found teens who maintain strong ties to their Latino cultures perform better academically and adjust more easily socially,” Smokowski said. “When we repeated the survey a year later, for every 1-point increase in involvement in their Latino cultures, we saw a 13 percent rise in self-esteem and a 12 to 13 percent decrease in hopelessness, social problems and aggressive behavior.
“Also, the study showed parents who develop a strong bicultural perspective have teen children who are less likely to feel anxiety and face fewer social problems,” he said. “For every increase in a parent’s involvement in United States culture, we saw a 15 to 18 percent decrease in adolescent social problems, aggression and anxiety one year later. Parents who were more involved in U.S. culture were in a better position to proactively help their adolescents with peer relations, forming friendships and staying engaged in school. This decreases the chances of social problems arising.”
“Such results suggest that Latino youth and their parents benefit from biculturalism.”