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Experiences and Strategies of Young, Low-Income, African-American Men and Families Who Navigate Violent Neighborhoods and Low-Performing Schools

Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, University of the District of Columbia, Washington, DC 20008, USA
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Societies 2019, 9(1), 3; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc9010003
Received: 24 August 2018 / Revised: 8 November 2018 / Accepted: 21 November 2018 / Published: 11 January 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Community Development for Equity and Empowerment)
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Abstract

Violent neighborhoods and low-performing schools continue to devastate young, low-income, African-American men and their families, despite individual and family use of kin and peer network navigation strategies. To learn more, interviews were conducted with 40 young African-American men, ages 18 to 22, from Baltimore City enrolled in a general equivalency diploma (GED) and job training program, and analyzed with modified grounded theory. Young men identified unsafe neighborhoods, chaotic schools, and disengaged teaching. Young men used safety and success strategies such as avoiding trouble and selecting positive peers to navigate unsafe environments. African-American families utilized kin network strategies such as messaging and modeling success, and mobilization for safety. Limits of unrecognized and unsupported strategies were related to: mobilization, limited educational partnership, and disproportionate family loss. Results indicate the continued urgent need for: (1) targeted violence reduction in high-violence neighborhoods, (2) calm and effective learning environments, (3) higher ratios of teachers to students to reduce chaos and improve learning, and (4) genuine teacher partnerships with families to improve access to positive role models, academic supports, and positive peer network development. View Full-Text
Keywords: high-crime neighborhoods; low-performing schools; African-American young men; African-American families; kin network activation; mobility; peer selection high-crime neighborhoods; low-performing schools; African-American young men; African-American families; kin network activation; mobility; peer selection
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Fitzgerald, M.E.; Miles, A.D.; Ledbetter, S. Experiences and Strategies of Young, Low-Income, African-American Men and Families Who Navigate Violent Neighborhoods and Low-Performing Schools. Societies 2019, 9, 3.

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