Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal

, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 383–393 | Cite as

An Exploratory Analysis of Linguistic Acculturation, Neighborhood, and Risk Behaviors Among Children of Southeast Asian Immigrants



Southeast Asian youth are disproportionately represented in the juvenile justice system, and yet little is known about the correlates of their delinquency. Predicated upon segmented assimilation theory, the aims of this study were (1) to examine the relationship between linguistic acculturation and risk behaviors and (2) to investigate neighborhood effects on risk behaviors among a sample of 153 at-risk Southeast Asian youth and young adults recruited from the East Bay Area near San Francisco, California. Exploratory factor analysis from estimated Census data derived neighborhood constructs for concentrated disadvantage and immigrant concentration. A series of binary logistic regression models suggested that linguistic acculturation, neighborhood disadvantage, and immigrant concentration were not related to violence perpetration, arrest, or gang association. Males and those who had dropped out of school were more likely to report acts that are associated with delinquency. Findings suggest that scholars and policymakers should continue to use disaggregated ethnic data to implement culturally competent practices that are reflective of the respective groups’ cultural backgrounds and migration histories. Implications for further research and practice among children of Southeast Asian immigrants are discussed.


Southeast Asian youth Neighborhood effects Segmented assimilation Delinquency Acculturation 



The research for this manuscript was funded by a Grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01-DA18281, P.I. Juliet P. Lee), the Harry H.L. Kitano Fellowship through the UCLA Department of Asian American Studies, and the UCLA Graduate Summer Mentorship Program. We thank Dr. Juliet P. Lee for her comments on this manuscript and for the use of these data.


  1. Asian Pacific American Legal Center. (2013). A community of contrasts: Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in California. Retrieved from
  2. Arifuku, I., Peacock, D. D., & Glesmann, C. (2006). Profiling incarcerated Asian and Pacific Islander youth: Statistics derived from the California Youth Authority administrative data. AAPI Nexus: Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders Policy, Practice and Community, 4(2), 95–110.Google Scholar
  3. Berry, J. W. (1980). Acculturation as varieties of adaptation. In A. M. Padilla (Ed.), Acculturation: Theory, models and some new findings (pp. 9–25). Boulder, CO: Westview.Google Scholar
  4. Berry, J. W., Phinney, J. S., Sam, D. L., & Vedder, P. (Eds.). (2006). Immigrant youth in cultural transition: Acculturation, identity and adaptation across national contexts. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Earlbaum.Google Scholar
  5. Bowling, A. (2002). Research methods in health: Investigating health and health services (2nd ed.). Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Brisson, D., & Roll, S. (2012). The effect of neighborhood on crime and safety: A review of the evidence. Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work, 9(4), 333–350.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chronbach, L. J. (1951). Coefficient alpha and the internal structure of tests. Psychometrika, 16(3), 297–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cooley, M. R., Turner, S. M., & Biedel, D. C. (1995). Assessing community violence: The children’s report of exposure to violence. Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 34(2), 201–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Curcio, A. L., Mak, A. S., & Knott, V. E. (2014). The Australian self-report delinquency scale: A revision. Australian Journal of Psychology.Google Scholar
  10. Desmond, S. A., & Kubrin, C. E. (2009). The power of place: Immigrant communities and adolescent violence. The Sociological Quarterly, 50, 581–607.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Echtle, E. (2011). Southeast Asian voices. Retrieved from
  12. Elliott, D. S., Wilson, W. J., Huizinga, D., Sampson, R. J., Elliott, A., & Rankin, B. (1996). The effects of neighborhood disadvantage on adolescent development. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 33(4), 389–426.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Farrington, D. P. (1989). Age and crime. Crime and Justice, 7, 189–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ho, J. (2008). Community violence exposure of Southeast Asian American adolescents. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 23(1), 136–146.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. GeoLytics, Inc. (2005). Estimates and Projections. East Brunswick, NJ: GeoLytics, Inc.Google Scholar
  16. Jargowsky, P. A. (2009). Immigrants and neighborhoods of concentrated poverty: Assimilation or stagnation? Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 35, 1129–1151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Krisberg, B. (2005). Redeeming our children. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Le, T. (2002). Delinquency among Asian/Pacific Islanders: Review of literature and research. The Justice Professional, 15(1), 57–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Le, T., & Stockdale, G. D. (2005). Individualism, collectivism and delinquency in Asian American adolescents. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 34(4), 681–691.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lee, S. M. (1998). Asian Americans: diverse and growing  (Vol. 53, No. 2). Washington, DC: Population Reference Bureau.Google Scholar
  21. Lee, J. P. (2005). Social Meanings of Drugs for Asian American Youth (Grant proposal to the National Institute of Drug Abuse).Google Scholar
  22. Lee, J. P., Battle, R. S., Lipton, R., & Soller, B. (2010). ‘Smoking’: Use of cigarettes, cigars and blunts among Southeast Asian American youth and young adults. Health Education Research, 25, 83–96.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lee, J. P., & Kirkpatrick, S. (2006). Social meanings of marijuana use for Southeast Asian youth. Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse, 4(3–4), 135–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lee, M. T., & Martinez, R. (2009). Immigration reduces crime: An emerging scholarly consensus. Sociology of Crime, Law, and Deviance, 13, 3–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Leventhal, T., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2000). The neighborhoods they live in: The effects of neighborhood residence on child and adolescent outcomes. Psychological Bulletin, 126(2), 309–337.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Marin, G., & Gamba, R. J. (1996). A new measurement of acculturation for Hispanics: the bidimensional acculturation scale for Hispanics (BAS). Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 18(3), 297–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Marshall, G. N., Schell, T. L., Elliott, M. N., Berthold, S. M., & Chun, C. (2005). Mental health of Cambodian refugees 2 decades after resettlement in the United States. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 294(5), 571–579.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Miller, H. V., Barnes, J. C., & Hartley, R. D. (2009). Reconsidering Hispanic gang membership and acculturation in a multivariate context. Crime & Delinquency, 57(3), 331–355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Moloney, M., Hunt, G., & Evans, K. (2008). Asian American identity and drug consumption: From acculturation to normalization. Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse, 7(4), 376–403.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Morenoff, J. D., & Astor, A. (2006). Immigrant assimilation and crime: Generational differences in youth violence in Chicago. In R. Martinez Jr & A. Valenzuela Jr (Eds.), Immigration and crime: Race, ethnicity, and violence (pp. 36–63). New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Ngo, B., & Lee, S. J. (2007). Complicating the image of model minority success: A review of Southeast Asian American education. Review of Educational Research, 77(4), 415–453.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Oberwittler, D. (2007). The effects of neighbourhood poverty on adolescent problem behaviors: A multi-level analysis differentiated by gender and ethnicity. Housing Studies, 22(5), 781–803.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Oesterle, S., Hawkins, J. D., Fagan, A. A., Abbott, R. D., & Catalano, R. F. (2013). Variation in the sustained effects of the Communities that Care prevention system on adolescent smoking, delinquency, and violence. Prevention Science. doi: 10.1007/s11121-013-0365-y.Google Scholar
  34. Portes, A., & Zhou, M. (1993). The new second generation: Segmented assimilation and its variants. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 530(1), 74–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Puzzanchera, C., & Adams, B. (2011, December). Juvenile arrests 2009. Retrieved from Accessed 26 Feb 2014.
  36. Rankin, B. H., & Quane, J. M. (2002). Social contexts and urban adolescent outcomes: the interrelated effects of neighborhoods, families, and peers on African-American youth. Social Problems, 49(1), 79–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Rawlings, L. A., Capps, R., Gentsch, K., & Fortuny, K. (2007). Immigrant integration in low-income urban neighborhoods: Improving economic prospects and strengthening connections for vulnerable families. Retrieved from Accessed 26 Feb 2014.
  38. Rumbaut, R. (2006). Vietnamese, Laotian, and Cambodian Americans. In P. G. Min (Ed.), Asian Americans: Contemporary trends and issues (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  39. Rumbaut, R., & Ima, K. (1998). Between Two Worlds: Southeast Asian Refugee Youth in America. Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  40. Sakamoto, A., & Woo, H. (2007). The socioeconomic attainments of second-generation Cambodian, Hmong, Laotian, and Vietnamese Americans. Sociological Inquiry, 77(1), 44–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Sampson, R. J. (1991). Linking the micro- and macrolevel dimensions of community social organization. Social Forces, 70(1), 43–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sampson, R. J., Morenoff, J. D., & Gannon-Rowley, T. (2002). Assessing “neighborhood effects”: Social processes and new directions in research. Annual Review of Sociology, 28, 443–478.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Schwartz, S. J., Unger, J. B., Zamboanga, B. L., & Szapocznik, J. (2010). Rethinking the concept of acculturation: Implications for theory and research. American Psychologist, 65(4), 237–251.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Shoemaker, D. J. (2009). Juvenile Delinquency. New York: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  45. Smokowski, P. R., David-Ferdon, C., & Stroupe, N. (2009). Acculturation and violence in minority adolescents: a review of the empirical literature. Journal of Primary Prevention, 30(3), 215–263.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Soller, B., & Lee, J. P. (2010). Drug-intake methods and social identity: The use of marijuana in blunts among Southeast Asian adolescents and emerging adults. Journal of Adolescent Research, 25(6), 783–806.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Thlang, A. (2010). Factors Contributing to Gang-related Activities Amongst Southeast Asian Youths. Master’s thesis. California State University: Sacramento, CA.Google Scholar
  48. Thornberry, T. P., & Krohn, M. D. (2000). The self-report method of measuring delinquency and crime. Criminal Justice, 4, 33–83.Google Scholar
  49. Um, K. (2003). A dream denied: educational experiences of Southeast Asian American youth, issues and recommendations. Washington, DC: Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC).Google Scholar
  50. United States Census Bureau. (2011). American Community Survey 2005-2009 ACS 5-year estimates. [Data file]. Retrieved from Accessed 8 Nov 2012.
  51. Vo-Jutabha, E. D., Dinh, K. T., McHale, J. P., & Valsiner, J. (2009). A qualitative analysis of Vietnamese adolescent identity exploration with and outside an ethnic enclave. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 38(5), 672–690.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Wallen, G. R., Feldman, R. H., & Anliker, J. (2002). Measuring acculturation among Central American women with the use of a brief language scale. Journal of Immigrant Health, 4(2), 95–102.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Williams, J. H., Ayers, C. D., Abbott, R. D., Hawkins, J. D., & Catalano, R. F. (1999). Racial differences in risk factors for delinquency and substance use among adolescents. Social Work Research, 23(4), 241–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Wu, Z., Hou, F., & Schimmele, C. M. (2011). Racial diversity and sense of belonging in urban neighborhoods. City & Community, 10(4), 373–392.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Ying, Y., & Han, M. (2007). The longitudinal effect of intergenerational gap in acculturation on conflict and mental health in Southeast Asian American adolescents. Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 77(1), 61–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Yoshikawa, H. (1994). Prevention as cumulative protection: Effects of early family support and education on chronic delinquency and its risks. Psychological Bulletin, 115(1), 28–54.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Zhou, M. (1997). Growing up American: The challenge confronting immigrant children and children of immigrants. Annual Review of Sociology, 23, 63–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Zhou, M., & Bankston, C. L. (2006). Delinquency and acculturation in the twenty-first century: A decade’s change in a Vietnamese American community. In R. M. Ramirez & A. Valenzuela (Eds.), Immigration and Crime: Race, ethnicity, and violence. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social WelfareUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

Personalised recommendations