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Latino Youth as Information Leaders: Implications for Family Interaction and Civic Engagement in Immigrant Communities
Unformatted Document Text:  Information Leaders peer discussion, as measured by increases in news media attention and initiating conversations with parents (project, 1998). Most relevant to Latino families, the curricula closed gaps in civic engagement tied to ethnicity and socioeconomic status (SES). A similar dynamic emerged in El Paso County, Colorado (Colorado Springs) during the fall of 2002, when Latino youth grew alarmed by a proposition to enforce English-only instruction. Latino parents, for their part, were more likely than Anglo parents to pay attention to news in response to children broaching campaign topics (project, 2006b). KVUSA research resonates with a recent study in Southern California, where scholars took notice of Latino children and parents marching together on March 25, 2006, to protest HR4437, the Sensenbrenner bill (Wilkin et al., 2009). The legislation called for raising penalties for illegal immigration and for harboring undocumented workers. Hundreds of school children walked out of school to protest the day before the march, having heard about the Sensenbrenner bill through their social networks, and the Internet, specifically through announcements made on MySpace.com. Others heard about the rally at church and through other community organizations (p. 388). Wilkin et al. describe the immigrant family as “a site of community construction” that can overcome “linguistic isolation” and low SES (p. 402). Individual members of Latino families come into contact with different community resources and flows of information. At school, youth are exposed to a plethora of cultural influences, while mothers interact with health-care and child-care facilities. Latino men are more likely exposed to a wide range of Spanish media. Consequently, the family becomes a confluence from which tributaries of information flow. Deliberation in Immigrant Families Much of the impetus for family civic engagement resides with Latino youth. The 6

Authors: McDevitt, Mike. and Butler, Mary.
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Information Leaders
peer discussion, as measured by increases in news media attention and initiating conversations 
with parents (project, 1998). Most relevant to Latino families, the curricula closed gaps in civic 
engagement tied to ethnicity and socioeconomic status (SES). A similar dynamic emerged in El 
Paso County, Colorado (Colorado Springs) during the fall of 2002, when Latino youth grew 
alarmed by a proposition to enforce English-only instruction. Latino parents, for their part, were 
more likely than Anglo parents to pay attention to news in response to children broaching 
campaign topics (project, 2006b). 
KVUSA research resonates with a recent study in Southern California, where scholars 
took notice of Latino children and parents marching together on March 25, 2006, to protest 
HR4437, the Sensenbrenner bill (Wilkin et al., 2009). The legislation called for raising penalties 
for illegal immigration and for harboring undocumented workers.  
Hundreds of school children walked out of school to protest the day before the march, 
having heard about the Sensenbrenner bill through their social networks, and the Internet, 
specifically through announcements made on MySpace.com. Others heard about the rally 
at church and through other community organizations (p. 388). 
Wilkin et al. describe the immigrant family as “a site of community construction” that can 
overcome “linguistic isolation” and low SES (p. 402). Individual members of Latino families 
come into contact with different community resources and flows of information. At school, 
youth are exposed to a plethora of cultural influences, while mothers interact with health-care 
and child-care facilities. Latino men are more likely exposed to a wide range of Spanish media. 
Consequently, the family becomes a confluence from which tributaries of information flow.  
Deliberation in Immigrant Families 
Much of the impetus for family civic engagement resides with Latino youth. The 
6


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