Ethnic identity development and social competence of Mexican-American children
Villa, Laura Cecilia
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The primary purpose of this study was to explore the ethnic identity of Mexican-American children. The investigation looked at the ethnic identity in terms of development by assessing five components of ethnic identity (ethnic self-identification, ethnic constancy, ethnic knowledge, ethnic feelings and preferences, and use of ethnic role behaviors)in eight-year-old children. The present study also explored the role the broader social ecology in the development of ethnic identity by comparing the ethnic identity of children from two towns, Lubbock and El Paso, Texas. Individual familial predictors of ethnic identity (parental language acculturation, social acculturation, education and employment) were also assessed. In addition, the present study explored the implications of having a high or a low ethnic identity by looking at the relationship between ethnic identity and social competence in children from the two towns. Results indicate that Mexican-American children have started forming an ethnic identity at the age of eight years. In comparison, children from Lubbock supersede the children from El Paso in most of the ethnic identity components. Tovm seemed to be the most important predictor of ethnic identity, followed by mother's education, mother's employment, mother's use of the Spanish language, and the number of Mexican objects displayed in the home. Finally, findings demonstrate that higher ethnic identity leads to better social skills and less behavior problems within the sample. Differences in ethnic identity between the children in the two towns may be attributed to the different majority/minority status Mexican-American children experience. For Lubbock children, ethnicity may be a more sahent and important element of identity than for El Paso children because of their minority status.