Familismo reduces risk of community violence in Hispanic teens

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Familismo reduces risk of community violence

Familismo, the close bond Hispanics share with members of their families, is important for reducing exposure to community violence in at-risk Hispanic teens. (Shutterstock)

Hispanic teens who adhere to the cultural value of familismo, or the strong bond among close and extended members of a family, are less likely than other teens to be victims of community violence, according to new research from the University of Michigan.

For the study, experts looked at factors contributing to community violence among Hispanic teens, including part-time employment, unstructured time with friends, and non-school related activities.

Unstructured time with peers, which is likely to take place outside of the home, has previously been linked to violence exposure, likely due to a lack of supervision in dangerous neighborhoods.

“Hanging out in the neighborhood is also likely to coincide with a lack of supervision by parents and other adults,” Traci Kennedy, a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology and the study’s lead author, said in a statement.

Familismo is an important concept in the Hispanic community, signifying a respect and care for everyone in a family from parents to siblings to grandparents and aunts and uncles. In many traditional Hispanic homes, all of these people live together under one roof and all have a say when it comes to the health and wellbeing of other members.

According to Dimensions of Culture, this family-involved approach is important when looking at how Hispanics respond to health care approaches; and it is also proving important when it comes to steering young people away from community violence.

The reason for this, say University of Michigan researchers, is that Hispanic teens who foster a strong sense of familismo are more likely to spend their extra time at home with family rather than out with friends. Familismo encourages Hispanic teens to put family obligations ahead of other needs, which reduces their exposure to community violence.

“Fostering familismo among Latino adolescents in high-crime neighborhoods may minimize the need for later interventions,” Kennedy said.

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