Discrimination Can Hurt Teens, Body and Soul09/17/10
FRIDAY, Sept. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Discrimination experienced
by U.S. teens from Latin American and Asian backgrounds can affect
their grades and health, and is associated with depression,
distress and reduced self-esteem, a new study has found.
University of California, Los Angeles researchers asked 601 high
school seniors, who generally range in age from 17 to 19 years, to
record any discriminatory events or comments they experienced over
two weeks. They were also asked to note any physical symptoms, such
as headaches, stomachaches and general pain.
Nearly 60 percent of the teens reported discrimination from
other teens, 63 percent reported discrimination from adults, and 12
percent said they experienced discrimination every day.
Latin American teens reported more adult discrimination than
Asian American teens, while Asian American teens reported more
adult discrimination than white teens of European descent. Both
Latin American and Asian American teens reported more
discrimination by their peers than the white teens.
Teens who experienced higher levels of peer or adult
discrimination reported more aches, pain and other symptoms, and
had lower overall grade-point averages, the investigators
The study was released online in advance of publication in an
upcoming print issue of the
Journal of Research on Adolescence.
Discrimination can be especially hard on teens, the study
"These are the years when social identity is arguably more salient among teenagers who are struggling with defining who they are. Adding on a 'layer' of discrimination is not an easy thing for them to deal with," one of the study authors, Andrew J. Fuligni, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA's Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, said in a university news release.
"Discrimination significantly predicted lower [grade-point averages], higher levels of depression, higher levels of distress, lower self-esteem and more physical complaints," Fuligni added. "So the bottom line? Discrimination is harmful."
The Nemours Foundation has more about
depression in teens.
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