Friends and Race

Kara Powell | Jan 13, 2011

Im in the middle of a multi-part blog series on a great new book on kids and race called Growing Up in America: The Power of Race in the Lives of Teens. Based on the data from the National Study of Youth and Religion, this book has an important chapter on teenagers peers and examines similarities and differences among white, African-American, Latino, and Asian-American teens. This post is devoted to findings that were especially interesting to me.

African-American teens are the most likely to have a best friend that is a family member and the least likely to have met their five best friends through school. African-American teens also seem to have the highest levels of satisfaction with their body and physical appearance (for both boys and girls).

Contrary to impressions from the media, the vast majority of African-American teens interviewed were not exposed to violence, gang activity, and drugs. This is not to say that those arent problems in the African-American community, but rather that the problems have been exaggerated. More common were reports of pressure to be tough and to engage in physical fights.

African-American teens are the most likely to have had sexual intercourse and to have had more partners compared to the other 3 racial groups examined. African-American teens also reported the highest levels of pressure to have sex from friends and dates.

While all teens view their friends as important, white teens spend the most time with their friends. Asian-American teens spend as much unsupervised time with their peers as white teens but are less influenced by them.

My biggest frustration with blogging about this book is its like drinking from a fire hydrant. So many interesting tidbits about race and kids.

Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.


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