Pubertal timing and its link to behavioral and emotional problems among 'at-risk' African American adolescent girls

Rona Carter, James Jaccard, Wendy K. Silverman, Armando A. Pina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using an 'at-risk' sample of African American girls, the present study examined the link between girls' retrospective reports of pubertal timing, girls' perceived relative pubertal timing, and their behavioral and emotional problems as rated by the girls themselves (N = 102; 11-17 years), as well as teachers and parents. Structural equation modeling results indicated that the girls' retrospective reports of menarche were significantly related to their perceived relative menarche, whereas the girls' retrospective reports of development of their breasts were not related to their perceived relative development of breasts. Girls who perceived their breasts developing early relative to their peers were more likely to engage in delinquent behaviors according to teacher report. Significant effects of teacher reported adolescent internalizing problems also were found for girls who retrospectively reported either early or late development of breasts. The study's findings underscore the importance of teasing apart the effects of different indicators of girls' pubertal development on psychosocial adjustment and including teachers' reports of girls' emotional and behavioral problems, particularly among girls with the additional risks associated with residing in an economically disadvantaged urban setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)467-481
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Adolescence
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2009


  • 'At-risk' populations
  • African American adolescent girls
  • Development of breasts
  • Externalizing problems
  • Internalizing problems
  • Menarche
  • Perceived pubertal timing
  • Pubertal timing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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