Can Adolescents Show Biological Resilience? Fathers’ Ethnic-Racial Identities Protect Children Against the Accelerated Epigenetic Aging Linked to Police Intrusion
Ethnic-racial minority adolescents experience accelerated premature aging (e.g., epigenetic aging) and are disproportionately stopped by the police. To protect their children against the physiological stress linked to police intrusion, fathers may enact their ethnic-racial identities, which may implicitly shape their parenting beliefs and practices about how to raise their children within a stratified society. In a longitudinal study of 1,688 fathers and their biological children in the Future of Families and Child Wellbeing study [54% Black, 26% Latino, 20% Other ethnicracial minority; 50% girls], adolescents who experienced more police intrusion showed more accelerated epigenetic aging, according to the second-generation epigenetic clocks (i.e., GrimAge, PhenoAge, and DunedinPoAm). Fathers’ ethnic-racial identity commitment (but not their exploration) weakened the link between police intrusion and adolescents’ epigenetic aging. Although fathers mitigated the effect of police intrusion on adolescents’ premature aging, policies and practices need to be amended to reduce police surveillance in youth’s lives.