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Adolescent Emotional Distress: The Role of Family Obligations and School Connectedness

NCJ Number
Journal of Youth and Adolescence Volume: 40 Issue: 2 Dated: February 2011 Pages: 221-230
Ada M. Wilkinson-Lee; Qionghui Zhang; Velia Leybas Nuno; Mari S. Wilhelm
Date Published
February 2011
10 pages
This study examined whether characteristics of the family school mesosystem may contribute to student reports of emotional distress or wellness.
The current study draws upon ecodevelopmental theory to identify protective and risk factors that may influence emotional distress during adolescence. Hierarchical regression analyses were used to examine the relationship among family obligations, school connectedness and emotional distress of 4,198 (51 percent female) middle and high school students who were primarily (59 percent) European American. The overall model explained 21.1 percent of the variance in student emotional distress. A significant interaction effect was found indicating that school connectedness moderated the relationship between family obligations and emotional distress. Specifically, for students with low to moderate levels of family obligations, a stronger sense of school connectedness was associated with lower emotional distress. The buffering effect of school connectedness was weakened as the level of family obligations increased and completely disappeared for students who experienced high levels of family obligations. The creation of a program that takes a holistic approach, in order to curtail the levels of highly emotionally distressed adolescents, must continue to address the ever changing demands that adolescents encounter and prepare youth to deal with functioning within multiple contexts and do so while maintaining emotional well-being. (Published Abstract) Tables, figure, and references