Internalizing symptoms are prevalent among adolescents, especially among Latinos, and can have negative consequences on health and development. Understanding the risk and protective factors leading to internalizing difficulties among Latino youth is critical. The current study sought to assess the effects of family risk and peer social rejection in the seventh grade on internalizing symptoms in the tenth grade, and the potential buffering effects of social support from family and from friends, among a sample of 749 Mexican American youth. Structural equation modeling was used to examine pathways from seventh grade family risk and peer social rejection to internalizing symptoms in the tenth grade. Perceived social support from family and perceived social support from friends were tested as moderators of these relations. Gender differences in these pathways were also assessed. Results showed that family risk did not predict tenth grade internalizing symptoms, but that peer social rejection predicted increased internalizing symptoms for girls. Furthermore, buffering effects were not confirmed; rather social support from both friends and family had no effect on the relation between family risk and internalizing symptoms, and high levels of social support from both sources amplified the effect of peer social rejection on internalizing symptoms. Secondary analyses suggested that at low levels of social support from both sources, peer social rejection predicted decreased internalizing symptoms for males. Limitations and implications for prevention and future research are discussed.
- Social support from family and friends and their role as buffers against internalizing symptoms among Mexican American youth