Children who experience discrimination are more susceptible to becoming depressed, new studies suggest.
The study, conducted by Lee M. Pachter, DO, co-author of the study and professor of pediatrics at Drexel University College of Medicine and St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia, is based on the realization that racism is an added and extremely potent psychosocial stressor in minority children. His research took the lead in trying to find more concrete affects discrimination has on a child’s self-esteem and overall mental health.
During this study, 277 minorities between the ages of 9 and 18 were provided a 23-item questionnaire to fill out. The questions dealt with how the subjects saw racism play out in their everyday lives.
The group consisted of the following minorities:
- 104 Latinos who were predominantly Puerto Ricans
- 85 African Americans
- 20 West Indian and Caribbean
- 53 multiracial
- 15 fell within a category listed as other
Also, a select group of minorities were asked to fill out two additional surveys: a Child Depression Inventory along with the Rosenberg Self Esteem Questionnaire
The children involved in this research expressed that the most common types of discrimination they’ve dealt with were racially charged. Children sited they had been subjects of having insults hurled at them and being followed by security guards were the most frequent forms of racism they’ve dealt with.
“Not only do most minority children experience discrimination, but they experience it in multiple contexts: in schools, in the community, with adults and with peers.” Dr. Pachter said. “It’s kind of like the elephant in the corner of the room. It’s there, but nobody really talks about it. And it may have significant mental and physical health consequences in these children’s lives.”
Children in the study in fact listed incidents they perceived to be racist that occurred at school, shops, inside stores and in neighborhoods.
The amounts of racism the kids faced were relatively the same for Latinos and African American, and the same for the males and females. Also, the impact the racism had on the children didn’t differ in age. All aspects of the group were impacted in a way that negatively affected their self-esteem and in turn children expressed symptoms of depression.
Due to these findings, the report suggests that since racism does directly impact a child’s general well being, closer studies should be conducted to see what could be done to fix the disparity. The psychosocial stress racism has on a child may be an inhibiting factor to the future success of minorities.