Overcoming the Odds? Adolescent Development in the Context of Urban Poverty

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Contribution to Book

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Resilience and Vulnerability: Adaptation in the Context of Childhood Adversities


Cambridge University Press

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Adolescence, a time of rapid biological, emotional, and social changes, brings with it a heightened developmental risk (McCord, 1997). This risk may be highest for adolescents growing up in poverty within our country's inner cities. In addition to the normative stress of adolescence, poor inner-city youth face multiple stressors and adversities including crowded housing, poor-quality schools, inadequate nutrition, and the presence of violence and drugs in their neighborhoods (Sampson, Morenoff, & Earls, 1999). These factors, in turn, have been linked to a host of negative outcomes (Brooks-Gunn & Duncan, 1997; Gorman-Smith & Tolan, this volume). Nonetheless, some inner-city youth survive these circumstances, overcoming adversity to become productive members of society. This chapter will highlight research that helps us understand the dynamic process of risk and resilience during this difficult transition in an even more difficult context.


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