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Linking Spirituality and Critical Consciousness to Thriving in Urban Youth of Color

Fri, March 22, 7:45 to 9:15am, Baltimore Convention Center, Floor: Level 1, Exhibit Hall B

Integrative Statement

Spirituality has been linked to positive outcomes for youth such as healthy behaviors, social capital, and civic engagement (King et al., 2017), particularly in youth of color (Gooden & McMahon, 2016). Youth critical consciousness has also been identified as a key asset for youth of color (Diemer et al., 2016). Critical consciousness is the ability to reflect on and navigate one’s socio-political environment, including the inequalities present in society and how their impact (Freire, 1973). Critical consciousness can be important in helping adolescents, especially urban youth of color, cope with the injustices experienced through systemic oppression (Diemer & Blustein, 2006). However, little research has explored whether these two assets are linked in youth of color and how they may jointly influence youth thriving. Therefore, the goal of this research is to examine the relations among spirituality, critical consciousness, and positive youth development (PYD) in a sample of adolescents and explore whether these relations differ by race.

A sample of 164 adolescents (64.6% female) who participated in an afterschool college preparation program completed questionnaires in the Fall (Time 1) and Spring (Time 2) of the 2017-2018 academic year. Participants ranged in age from 11 to 18 (M = 14.5, SD = 1.9) and were overwhelmingly ethnic minorities, predominantly Latinx (42.1%) or Black (38.4%), with 8.5% being Asian American, 7.9% multiethnic, 1.8% white, and 1.2% other. For analyses, all non-Black or non-Latinx youth were grouped together into “Other.” To assess spirituality, we used 9 items from King and colleagues’ (2016) Measure of Diverse Adolescent Spirituality. Critical consciousness was measured using the Critical analysis: Perceived Inequality subscale of the Critical Consciousness Scale (Diemer et al., 2017). PYD was measured using the 34-item PYD-SF based on the Five Cs model of PYD (Geldhof et al., 2014).

Bivariate correlations indicated that spirituality was not related to critical consciousness in Black or Latinx, youth; however, in “Other” youth, Time 1 critical consciousness was negatively related to spirituality at Time 1 (r = -.46, p = .013) and Time 2 (r = -.56, p = .005). Spirituality was related PYD concurrently and longitudinally in all groups. In Black youth, Time 2 critical consciousness was positively related to Time 2 PYD (r = .35, p = .012). Conversely, Time 2 critical consciousness was negatively related to Time 2 PYD in “Other” youth (r = -.46, p = .026).

PROCESS software (Hayes, 2018) was used to examine race as a potential moderator of the relation between Time 1 youth spirituality and critical consciousness and Time 2 PYD, controlling for PYD at Time 1. Findings indicated that the full model explained 53% of youth PYD at Time 2 (F [12,138] = 13.1068, p < .001). The stability coefficient was the only significant predictor of Time 2 PYD (b = .677, p < .001); however, there was a trend toward a three-way interaction between spirituality, critical consciousness, and race (b = -0.110, p = .08).

The results will be discussed in regards to how spiritual traditions view social and structural inequities.


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