Location

Harborside Center East and West

Strand #1

Mental & Physical Health

Strand #2

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Relevance

The particular outcomes of interest in the current study are academic achievement and mental/physical health (corresponding to strands I and IV – “head” and “health”). The presentation will emphasize specific issues surrounding disconnected youth and possible intervention strategies to increase positive outcomes (ie. academic engagement and achievement, healthy family functioning, mental health).

Brief Program Description

This study presents patterns across multiple dimensions of social isolation among a sample of military youth, and describes how these patterns are related to preceding risk factors and distal outcomes. The presentation will be of interest to professionals interested in strategies for fostering positive outcomes by developing and enhancing family and community support for at-risk youth populations.

Summary

Adolescents in military families face unique stressors related to their parent(s)’ military service (e.g., experience of deployment and frequent transitions). However, the presence of a strong social network that includes family, peers, community, and other organized settings, such as military-sponsored activities has been found to mitigate the detrimental effects of these stressors (Lucier-Greer et al., 2014). Other work has also emphasized the importance of social connections and family functioning for adaptive family outcomes and individual youth outcomes, such as academic performance and mental and psychological health (Chu et al., 2010; Lucier-Greer et al., 2014; Mancini et al., in press; Oshri et al., in press). Existing research has primarily focused on single dimensions of social isolation, such as the frequency, quality, or satisfaction with social interactions. Guided by social support theory, the current presentation takes a more nuanced approach by assessing multiple components of social isolation simultaneously using a sample of military families. The current presentation will share results from a 3-step latent profile analysis (LPA; Asparouhov & Muethn, 2013) centered on identifying patterns across multiple dimensions of social isolation and how these patterns are related to preceding risk factors and distal outcomes. First, clusters (i.e., groups) of youth are identified with similar social isolation patterns. For instance, some youth without large social networks may feel satisfied with their social circle, whereas other youth may feel isolated. In the second step, the model will identify precursors to isolation (e.g., child demographic factors, aspects of the military context such as number of relocations, parenting quality). Lastly, potential youth outcomes associated with each pattern of social isolation will be identified (e.g., youths’ mental and physical health, academic achievement). “Take homes” for participants include a better understanding of the multi-faceted nature of social isolation, risks associated with social isolation, as well as possible strategies for fostering positive outcomes by developing and enhancing family and community support for military youth or other at-risk youth populations.

Evidence

A focus on the social connections among military families and youth is consistent with recent calls for efforts (i.e. the White House Joining Forces Initiative) to support military families and communities by bringing attention to their unique needs and strengths, and ensuring they have the support and resources they need. This study utilizes a unique dataset, with data from multiple parents and children within each family covering a broad range of topics, which affords us the opportunity to learn more about military families. The statistical methods employed are cutting-edge and an improvement over previous methods because it allows for the identification of unobserved data patterns (i.e., groups) and precedents and antecedents, while also accounting for variance or potential uncertainty in group membership.

Format

Poster Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Jacquelyn K. Mallette is a doctoral student in the Department of Human Development and Family Science at the University of Georgia. Mrs. Mallette studies the influence of social support for military youth, co-parenting relationship functioning across vulnerable populations, and the impact of strengthening co-parenting relationships on family, child and parental outcomes. She has experience with developing resources and virtual trainings on healthy marriage and relationship education and has been involved in statewide relationship education trainings and evaluation.

Jay A. Mancini is the Haltiwanger Distinguished Professor of Human Development and Family Science at The University of Georgia, and Emeritus Professor of Human Development at Virginia Tech. He also directs the Family and Community Resilience Laboratory. His research is funded by HQ Army Child, Youth and School Services and by U.S. Department of Defense Military Community and Family Policy. Dr. Mancini studies the intersections of resilience and vulnerability, as well as families in community contexts. Recent and forthcoming publications are in Child and Family Social Work, Military Medicine, Family Relations, and Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology. He is the author of, with Pauline Boss and Chalandra Bryant, Family Stress Management: A Contextual Approach (Sage Publishers, forthcoming), and editor of, with Karen Roberto, Pathways of Human Development: Explorations of change (Lexington, 2009). Dr. Mancini is a Fellow of the National Council on Family Relations.

Dr. Catherine Walker O'Neal is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Family and Community Resilience Laboratory within the Department of Human Development and Family Science at the University of Georgia. Dr. O'Neal received her M.S. degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Auburn University in 2008 and her Ph.D. in Child and Family Development from the University of Georgia in 2011. Her primary research interests include the use of advanced statistical analyses to examine interdependence between family members as well as family and social factors that promote family members' strong mental and physical health.

Alycia DeGraff is a Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) doctoral student in the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences at the University of Georgia. Ms. DeGraff currently does research work in the UGA Family and Community Resilience Laboratory and practices as a couples and family therapist at the ASPIRE Clinic at UGA. Her past clinical experiences include working with the department of juvenile justice, addiction and recovery, and with the military population.

Audrey R. Lanier is a fourth year Human Development and Family Science undergraduate at the University of Georgia, with certificates in TESOL, Family Life Education, FACS Professionalism, and Entrepreneurship. After graduation in spring 2015, she will attend graduate school with the intent of obtaining a master's degree in Social Work in addition to a Marriage and Family Therapy certificate, with a focus on drug and substance abuse and addiction.

Keyword Descriptors

military families, social support, military youth, at-risk youth, social connections, social isolation, social networks

Presentation Year

2015

Start Date

3-3-2015 4:00 PM

End Date

3-3-2015 5:30 PM

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Mar 3rd, 4:00 PM Mar 3rd, 5:30 PM

Going it Alone: The Social and Emotional Life of Disconnected Youth

Harborside Center East and West

This study presents patterns across multiple dimensions of social isolation among a sample of military youth, and describes how these patterns are related to preceding risk factors and distal outcomes. The presentation will be of interest to professionals interested in strategies for fostering positive outcomes by developing and enhancing family and community support for at-risk youth populations.