Tamara Leech

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Influence of the Grassroots WISE program on Teen Mothers

Women's Information and Support Exchange (WISE) across Generations was a direct result of an ISDH-sponsored Community Conversation on Adolescent Pregnancy and Parenting conducted on August 5 - August 6, 2011. These large-scale community conversations brought sixty community members from the Indianapolis Mapleton-Fall Creek neighborhood together in focus groups and conversations to safely and openly address taboo issues and share experiences related to teen pregnancy. Analyses of conversation data revealed that community members were more likely to draw informal, rather than formal, sources of support, specifically networks of women-mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and family friends-who fulfill the needs related to the well-being of teen mothers, teen fathers, and their children. In response, the research team collaborated with participants who wanted to develop a new program to design and implement the WISE across Generations program. WISE formalizes relationships between mature women and adolescents through an intentional program of reciprocal communication. A pilot program was implemented in the community and evaluated using a pre-test/post-test design with comparison in outcomes across levels of participation. Results indicate that the program may be an important resource for younger adolescent mothers from very low income families, which represents both a high-risk population for undesirable parenting outcomes and difficult to reach populations. WISE effectively translated academic and community knowledge to meet pressing public needs. Findings from the program support extended implementation of the program in specific, low-income neighborhoods.

Dr. Leech's works to access the impact of a grassroots program on teen mothers demonstrates how IUPUI's faculty members are TRANSLATING their RESEARCH INTO PRACTICE.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 10 of 11
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    Beyond Collective Supervision of Youth: Informal Social Control, Pro-social Investment and Delinquency in Urban Neighborhoods
    (Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, 2011-04-08) Leech, Tamara G.J.
    The concentration of delinquency in certain neighborhoods represents a pervasive social inequality in the United States. Today, the distribution of urban delinquency is perhaps best described as “pockets of crime,” largely confined to urban blocks with unique characteristics (Jean 2007). An expansive amount of scholarship has addressed neighborhood responses to this persistent social issue, including collective neighborhood efforts to control rates of delinquency. It is generally accepted that to fully achieve social control of public space, neighborhoods must not only intervene in problem behavior, but must also socialize youth to avoid deviance (Bursick 1988). We currently have a strong body of research on neighborhood supervision and monitoring of delinquent behavior. Yet, we are left with a paucity of work on the association between delinquency rates and pro-social investment in youth at the neighborhood level. The purpose of this study is to begin to address these gaps in the literature by simultaneously investigating collective supervision of and pro-social investment in youth. The data for the analyses focus on one urban area in Indianapolis spanning 92 census block groups. The dataset combines census and county court data with 603 interviews of local residents. The results of the analysis indicate that the meaning of collective supervision and investment seems to be context - specific. Areas with high levels of supervision over youth have fewer incidents of relatively moderate forms of delinquency such as truancy, underage drinking, curfew violations, etc. However, this same connection between supervision and slightly more serious offenses (i.e. misdemeanors) is only evident in neighborhoods with strong collective pro-social investment in youth. Areas with high levels of this prosocial investment also experience fewer juvenile felony charges, but these same areas are weaker in the supervision of youth behavior. Overall, the analyses indicate that neighborhoods dealing with minor delinquency among youth may be able to deal with the problem by monitoring and intervening in adolescent behavior. However, investment in youth organizations, positive intergenerational relationships, and informal mentoring may be a more effective option for neighborhoods facing more serious forms of juvenile delinquency.
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    The Young Men in the Streets of “Pockets of Peace”: The Feasibility of Obtaining Data through Cell Phone Journals
    (Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, 2016-04-08) Sow, Hadyatoullaye; Leech, Tamara; Irby-Shasanmi, Amy
    This project is an extension of a study by Dr. Tamara Leech called “Pockets of Peace,” which examines certain Indianapolis communities that, despite high rates of concentrated disadvantage, exhibit low rates of youth violence. The following research focuses on the methods, incentives, and logistics needed to recruit and retain young men most at risk for violence in these communities. To understand the reasons for resilience or nonresilience, 28 participants in both pockets and non-pockets were provided iPhones. Using these iPhones, they completed biweekly surveys regarding their experiences, their neighborhoods, and the violence that does or does not define them. Participants had their phone plans paid for the duration of the study and were provided $25 gift cards per monthly meeting they attend, wherein they were granted the opportunity to elaborate on survey responses. Participation rates tell an interesting story. The sample size and the engagement of the participants fluctuated weekly; yet, the average participation rate, which considers the number of participants expected to complete the survey and the actual number of surveys completed, ranged from 70% to 95% per survey. After two missed surveys, participants’ phones were shut off, as an incentive for them to complete surveys consistently. While some of the young men fail to do so, significant data was gathered from completed surveys and monthly meetings. There are no better experts on youth violence in Indianapolis than the youth themselves. The participants’ cell phone journals provide qualitative meaning to researchers’ quantitative data by recording perspectives and stories that contextualize the statistics. Simultaneously, participants benefit materially and also gain a sense of purpose from contributing to the betterment of their community.
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    Diversity in times of austerity: Documenting resistance in the academy
    (2014-05) Moscowitz, David; Jett, Terri; Carney, Terri; Leech, Tamara G.J.; Savage, Ann
    What happens to feminism in the university is parallel to what happens to feminism in other venues under economic restructuring: while the impoverished nation is forced to cut social services and thereby send women back to the hierarchy of the family, the academy likewise reduces its footprint in interdisciplinary structures and contains academic feminists back to the hierarchy of departments and disciplines. When the family and the department become powerful arbiters of cultural values, women and feminist academics by and large suffer: they either accept a diminished role or are pushed to compete in a system they recognize as antithetical to the foundational values of feminist priorities of social justice. Collaborative work to nurture diversity and interdisciplinarity does not register as individual accomplishment. This paper considers the necessity of this type of academic work to further the vision of a society committed to the collective values espoused by feminism and other areas in social justice.
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    Empowerment-Based Positive Youth Development: A New Understanding of Healthy Development for African American Youth
    (2014-03) Travis, Raphael Jr.; Leech, Tamara G.J.
    A shift occurred in research about adolescents in the general population. Research is moving away from deficits toward a resilience paradigm and understanding trajectories of positive youth development. This shift has been less consistent in research and practice with African American youth. A gap also exists in understanding whether individual youth development dimensions generate potential in other dimensions. This study presents an empowerment-based positive youth development model. It builds upon existing research to present a new vision of healthy development for African American youth that is strengths-based, developmental, culture-bound, and action-oriented. It emphasizes the relationship between person and environment, the reinforcing nature of developmental assets, and the necessity of a sense of community and community engagement for youth.
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    Political competition, relative deprivation, and perceived threat: a research note on anti-Christian violence in India
    (2012) Bauman, Chad; Leech, Tamara G.J.
    A preliminary subnational statistical analysis of violence against Christians in contemporary India, this article suggests that whereas the data provide very little support for simple, demographic explanations of this violence, they do more robustly support theories emphasizing the relative status of ethnic and religious minorities (vis-à-vis majorities) and the perception, among Hindus, that Christians (and other minorities) represent a threat to their numerical, political and economic strength.
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    The Community Action Framework in Practice: An Illustration Based on the Ready by 21 Coalition of Austin/Travis County
    (2011-08) Travis, Raphael Jr.; Leech, Tamara G.J.
    The field of positive youth development has expanded focus from articulating and measuring desired manifestations of positive well-being to assembling the environmental conditions known to promote these desired outcomes. Evidence of the effectiveness of community-level efforts promoting positive youth development is still emerging, in particular theory-driven examples of community-driven youth development. This study examined the Community Action Framework, one theory-based community youth development model, through the experiences of the Ready by 21 Austin/Travis County coalition (RB21). The coalition connects youth-serving organizations and also regional coalitions, while promoting the positive development of area youth. Participant observation, interviewing, and archival strategies were integrated to capture information related to the complex and dynamic coalition. Results indicated that RB21 represents a practical and meaningful application of the Community Action Framework. Specific examples and recommendations are provided as guidance for other community level youth development efforts.
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    The Significance of Race for Neighborhood Social Cohesion: Perceived Difficulty of Collective Action in Majority Black Neighborhoods
    (2012-03) Hobson-Prater, Tara; Leech, Tamara G.J.
    This article explores William Julius Wilson’s contentions about community cultural traits by examining racial differences in middle class neighborhoods’ levels of social cohesion. Specifically, we explore the perceived difficulty of these actions—as opposed to general pessimism about their outcomes—as a potential explanation for low levels of instrumental collective action in Black middle class neighborhoods. Our results indicate that, regardless of other neighborhood factors, majority Black neighborhoods have low levels of social cohesion. We also find that this racial disparity is statistically explained by shared perceptions about the amount of effort required to engage in group action in different neighborhoods. These findings emphasize that residence in a majority Black area—and the well-informed perceptions accompanying it—affect the lived experience of neighbors, even when they are middle class.
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    Subsidized Housing, Public Housing, and Adolescent Violence and Substance Use
    (2010-06) Leech, Tamara G.J.
    This study examines the separate relationships of public housing residence and subsidized housing residence to adolescent health risk behavior. Data include 2,530 adolescents aged 14 to 19 who were children of the National the Longitudinal Study of Youth. The author use stratified propensity methods to compare the behaviors of each group—subsidized housing residents and public housing residents—to a matched control group of teens receiving no housing assistance. The results reveal no significant relationship between public housing residence and violence, heavy alcohol/marijuana use, or other drug use. However, subsidized housing residents have significantly lower rates of violence and hard drug use, and marginally lower rates of heavy marijuana/alcohol use. The results indicate that the consistent, positive effect of vouchers in the current literature is not due to a lower standard among the typical comparison group: public housing. Future studies should focus on conceptualizing and analyzing the protective effect of vouchers beyond comparisons to public housing environments.
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    Everything's Better in Moderation: Young Women's Gender Role Attitudes and Risky Sexual Behavior
    (2010-05) Leech, Tamara G.J.
    Purpose This study examines the association between gender role attitudes and risky sexual behavior among young women. Previous studies have posed seemingly contradictory arguments: that either traditional attitudes or egalitarian attitudes are associated with riskier behavior. Methods Data are based on the children of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, representing 520 sexually active 18–19-year-old women. Propensity radius matching was used to assess differences in rates of multiple sexual partners and sex outside of a committed relationship. Results Relative to moderate gender role attitudes, both egalitarian gender role attitudes and traditional gender role attitudes are associated with higher rates of risky sexual behavior. Both women with egalitarian role attitudes and those with traditional role attitudes have about a 10% higher prevalence of risky behavior compared to women with more moderate gender role attitudes. Conclusion Existing, seemingly contradictory contentions about the relationship between gender role attitudes and risky sexual behavior may be more coherent than they seem. By shifting focus from risk to protection, the results suggest that moderate gender role attitudes are protective against risky sexual behavior. Future studies should investigate the causal mechanisms and intervention implications of this protective relationship.
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    A Community Conversation on Adolescent Pregnancy and Parenting Services: Networks of Support, Gatekeepers to Care, and Non-Compulsory Fathering in a Black Urban Community
    (2014) Leech, Tamara G.J.; Adams, Elizabeth A.; Littlefield, Marci
    This study employed Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) methods to document needs and capacity around adolescent pregnancy and parenting in one predominately Black, low-income urban community. Using an iterative focus group method, we engaged 60 participants in a two-day community conversation. Quantitative data from an enrollment questionnaire and qualitative transcripts of the discussions are analyzed. Our results indicate that the community’s greatest capacity lies in a network of women. Men tend to participate in parenting more holistically once formal paternity is established. Neighborhood women typically introduce adolescents to prenatal care, so delays in revealing the pregnancy to them serves as a barrier to accessing prenatal care. Overall, participants want health agencies to uphold their formal social contracts with the community, but to entrust informal services to community members who have the necessary insight and expertise to deliver support and information that is usable in their social context.