Peer Victimization and Substance Use Among African American Adolescents and Emerging Adults on Chicago’s Southside

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Urban African-American youth residing in poorly resourced communities are at a heightened risk of peer victimization, which consequently increases their likelihood of risky behaviors such as substance use. The present study examined whether there was a direct relationship between peer victimization and substance use and whether it was mediated by negative peer norms, internalizing problems, and bullying perpetration. African-American youth (n = 638) completed a self-administered questionnaire on age, biological sex, socioeconomic status, lifetime substance use, peer victimization and bullying perpetration, negative peer norms, and internalizing problems. There were no direct effects between peer victimization and substance use. However, negative peer norms and bullying were both independently associated with substance use, although internalizing problems were not significant. In addition, peer victimization increased the odds of internalizing problems. Social services must be expended in low-income communities to effectively address peer victimization and substance use among urban African-American youth.

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