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The intersection of culture, biology in Hispanic youth development

Alan Flurry

The Hispanic community has been steadily growing in Georgia for many years, yet despite its increasing visibility, this community continues to be underrepresented in research around families and human development. Our colleagues in Research Communications share the story:


For Cynthia Suveg, this was a call to action. Suveg, professor of psychology in UGA’s Clinical Doctoral Program, has long been interested in bridging this research gap. Now, her team has been awarded a $3 million grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to better understand academic and behavioral outcomes in Latinx youth, and how Latinx parents promote positive outcomes in their children.

Suveg and her team plan to use this five-year grant to offer novel information about the ways that culture and biological processes intersect and influence the well-being of Latinx youth and families. The team hopes to gain insights using a culturally informed approach that acknowledges the ways culture affects all aspects of a child’s life, and how it infuses the parent-child relationship.

“A culturally informed approach to the study of parent-child relationships in Latinx populations is critical for understanding how these relationships support healthy child development,” Suveg said. “Parenting is certainly influenced by culture. However, some parenting behaviors are universally positive, like sharing in positive emotion and providing support when needed.”

The team plans to use this approach to better understand what positive parenting looks like in Latinx parents and also to identify how stressors like discrimination, and cultural strengths such as strong ethnic identity, influence parents’ own well-being.

Studies will be conducted over the course of a five-year span, and will have a special focus on Latinx families from across Athens and surrounding communities. Information will be gathered starting when the families’ children are 3 to 4 years of age, and each subsequent year after that until the children are 5 to 6 years of age. Suveg identified the early childhood period as a critical time for understanding the ways that parenting can support healthy child development.

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Image: Suveg’s team includes UGA staff, graduate and undergraduate research assistants, as well as collaborators from across the country. (Photo by Lauren Corcino)

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