Date of Paper

5-2012

Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

msw

Department

socialwork

First Advisor

Katharine Hill

Abstract

I

Racial and ethnic differences that exist within our society are discovered by children at a very young age (Derman-Sparks, Higa, Sparks, 1980). The development of ethnic identity is an important part of overall identity development and is an indispensable human need that fosters a sense of belonging and a sense of historical continuity (Smith, 1991). Therefore, this paper examined if there was a correlation between a positive ethnic identity and self-worth in African American adolescents. In order to examine this correlation, the researcher surveyed 30 African American adolescents between the ages of 18 to 25-years-old and asked them about their ethnic identity development as well as how they valued themselves based on their self-esteem. The findings demonstrate that there were no statistically significant correlations between an African American adolescents’ ethnic identity and his/her self worth, nor were there statistical differences based on gender. However, the researcher did find a statistical significant between participants’ age and their ethnic identity. In addition, the researcher found a statistically significant relationship between age and the About Me survey that was issued, which focused on the combination of ethnic identity and self-esteem. There are several implications for social work practice, policy and research that resulted from this study. Identity formation and is a pivoting task of adolescence and if individuals are not able to arrive at a stable sense of self then interpersonal areas and psychological effects may affect the individual (Phinney, 1992). As a whole, society needs to take a stance against racism and exclusion and encourage differing ethnic groups to take pride in where they come from rather than promoting a melting pot ideology. Future research needs to focus on adolescents are acquiring a sense of ethnic identity in the 21st century and how this is affects their self-esteem.

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