What Is it About Perceived Discrimination That Can Lead Immigrant Adolescents to Alcohol Use and Delinquency? The Mediating Role of Feelings of Alienation

Sophie D. Walsh, Tanya Kolobov, Olga Simanovskaya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Despite research examining the relationship between discrimination and alcohol use and delinquency among adolescents, little is understood about the mechanism behind the relationship. Objectives: On the basis of Strain Theory, the current study examined a new theoretical model in which feelings of alienation (from the self, peers, and Israeli society) mediate the relationship between discrimination and alcohol use and delinquency. Methods: A one-year follow-up study was conducted with 146 at-risk youth from the Former Soviet Union and Ethiopia in Israel (63% male), from disadvantaged low socioeconomic neighborhoods. At Time 1 (T1), adolescents were asked about their experiences of discrimination, feelings of alienation, and levels of problem alcohol use (past month/ever drunkenness, past month binge drinking, and regular daily drinking). At time 2 (T2), the participants were again asked as to their experiences of alienation, alcohol use, and delinquency. Results: Perceived discrimination at T1 significantly predicted feelings of alienation at T2, when controlling for the relationship with alienation at T1. Feelings of alienation (from the self and Israeli society) fully mediated the relationship between discrimination and alcohol use. However, there was a direct relationship between discrimination and delinquency. Conclusions: Findings emphasize the negative impact of discrimination on adolescents. They suggest that during the critical developmental period of adolescence, feelings of discrimination may be internalized into negative emotions which may lead to involvement in deviant behaviors. Results suggest a need to help adolescents process and make sense of the discriminatory experiences they perceive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-77
Number of pages13
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Volume54
Issue number1
Early online date26 Oct 2018
DOIs
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, © 2018 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

Keywords

  • Discrimination
  • Israel
  • adolescent
  • alcohol use
  • alienation
  • delinquency
  • immigrant

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