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March 2024Vol. 25, No. 2The Benefits of Protective Community Resources for Black Children and Youth

Protective community resources (PCRs) are community-level characteristics, conditions, or assets that buffer the effects of risk on children and youth. A recent brief from Child Trends explores research from the past 10 years on PCRs for Black children and youth.

“Black Children and Youth Can Benefit From Focused Research on Protective Community Resources” analyzes research on PCRs and Black children and youth from 2012 to 2022, specifically from 143 studies. One major finding was the importance of community cohesion, peer support, school connectedness, community role models, and neighborhood amenities and services. Nearly two-thirds of the studies examined at least one of those elements, with the following findings:

  • Community cohesion, or close social relationships among members of a community, is associated with positive behavioral and mental health outcomes for Black children and youth who have been exposed to challenges like economic hardship, discrimination, and violence.
  • Positive peer support is associated with positive impacts on youths' physical and mental health as well as their attitude, behavior, and success related to school.
  • School connectedness, or positive school environments and connection with teachers and staff, is positively associated with educational goals and prosocial behavior.
  • Community role models and mentors can be protective resources for Black children and youth.
  • Neighborhood amenities and services, such as sidewalks, recreation centers, libraries, grocery stores, medical providers, and mental health providers, are associated with health and safety among Black children and youth.

While the brief outlines and provides details about these findings, it also acknowledges that there are still substantial knowledge gaps related to PCRs for Black children and youth. The brief asserts that these gaps are due to the limited representation and engagement of Black children and youth in research and research studies. There are also gaps in research about Black youth who are members of the LGBTQIA2S+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, asexual, Two-Spirit, or other gender or sexual identity) community. In addition, much of the existing research is focused on urban populations and not rural populations.

The gaps indicate potential direction for future studies on PCRs for Black children and youth. For example, research on key demographic areas (age, sexual and gender identity, ethnicity, employment status, and so on) within the larger population of Black children and youth can provide meaningful data.

The brief is available on the Child Trends website.