McNair/Gateway Scholars Program USC

Ninive Sanchez

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Major and Classification

Psychology

Faculty Mentors

  • Professor Laura Baker

Department

McNair Project

"Social Risk Factors for Externalizing Behavior in Children: Ethnic Differences Within a Community Sample"

This study examined the social risk factors for externalizing behavior in children and how these relationships differ across ethnic groups. The participants included 550 male and female twin pairs aged 9-10 years and their primary caregivers (91.4% biological mothers). The data were derived from the Southern California Twin Project, an ongoing twin study of childhood behavior problems in a sample mirroring the diverse ethnic makeup of Los Angeles County. Externalizing problems were assessed from caregiver and teacher reports using the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). Social risk factors were assessed by obtaining information regarding characteristics of child, characteristics of caregiver, family background, and neighborhood conditions. Higher levels of externalizing problem behaviors were predicted in children belonging to ethnic minority groups. This study sheds light on how levels of aggression in pre-adolescent children vary among ethnic groups. It is hoped that this research will enable researchers, psychologists, and clinicians to improve prevention programs for youth who may be at risk for problem behaviors.