Hispanic Girls Growing up on the Border
The Southwest United States is an area of great diversity. It is located on the border between the US and Mexico. In this region there are four main ethnicities represented: Hispanics, African Americans, Anglo Americans, and Native Americans. These groups interact daily working in the same offices and going to school together. Youth of each ethnicity face risks as they grow up. By focusing on the Hispanic adolescent girl the extent of the possible risks to one ethnicity can be explored. These risks will include motivation at school, the risk of dropping out of school, the at-risk classification, which includes gang involvement, and teen pregnancy. The results of studies focused on the risks to Hispanic girls will be compared to an interview with a Hispanic girl living in Tucson, Arizona and what she feels the actual risks are. Through the comparison a full view of the risks to adolescent Hispanic girls growing up in the border region will be seen.
At-Risk girls is a term used over and over in order to describe girls that may be predisposed to problems such as dropping out of school or joining gangs. Girls classified as at risk share many of the same characteristics. Not having English as a native language is one of the risk factors attributed to the at risk girl classification. For first and, often, second generation Hispanics the language barrier is a problem leading to poor economic standing and poor education. In the border region this problem is evident in some schools since they may "consist primarily of Mexican American students, most of whom are considered at-risk based on language barriers, economic disadvantages, and poor family education"(Sonnenblick 243-244). A Hispanic girl, therefore often, faces the classification of at risk automatically because she is not a fluent speaker of the dominant language of the United States.
A solution to help at risk girls feel they fit into their community has been attempted through the formation of a club in Texas, where there is a large Mexican population due to the border region. A club for at-risk girls was started called Girls Acquiring Leadership Skills through Service (GALLS). Since "students who lack feelings of inclusion at school are those most at-risk for both youth gang involvement and dropping out of school" this club focuses on making girls feel they belong at school(Sonnenblick 243). Throughout the border region, enacting programs such as GALLS could be effective for lessening Hispanic girls' at-risk classification. Not being at-risk would be a benefit for Hispanic girls whom face so many other potentially problematic situations in their daily life on the border.
Hispanic girls often must face another classification because of their race, that they do not want or are not motivated to do well in school. In the past the common stereotype has been that Mexicans do not have the...