Pubertal Timing, Racial Identity, Neighborhood, and School Context Among Black Adolescent Females

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Abstract

Objectives: This study bridges the empirical research on pubertal timing effects, racial identity, and school and neighborhood context to understand the pubertal development and depression link among Black adolescent females. We examined whether racial identity content dimensions moderated the relation between pubertal timing and depressive symptoms among Black adolescent females and the moderating capacity of school and neighborhood racial composition. Method: We administered measures of pubertal development, racial identity, and depressive symptoms to a sample of 217 Black adolescent females, aged 14 to 18. We assessed racial centrality, private regard, and public regard and used archival data to obtain the racial composition of participants’ neighborhoods and schools. Results: The results indicated that high racial centrality levels were linked to depressive symptoms for adolescent girls with late pubertal timing relative to their early counterparts, which was stronger for girls attending not majority Black schools. The results also indicated that low public regard levels were linked to depressive symptoms among adolescent girls with early pubertal timing relative to their late counterparts, which was stronger for girls attending not majority Black schools. Conclusions: The current study provides evidence that racial identity and school racial context moderate the effects of pubertal timing differentially for early and late maturing Black girls. The results support the notion that the psychological effects of pubertal timing on internalizing symptoms are context dependent.

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