Researchers at UT Austin say racial and ethnic discrimination affects development — from mental and physical health to risky behaviors and academic success. The study, published in the journal American Psychologist, looked at 214 previous studies on adolescents and measured 11 indicators of well-being.
Understanding racial and ethnic differences begins early in life, researchers say. Studies have shown that before age 5, children begin grouping themselves by race or ethnic background, and by age 10, many children can recognize discrimination. Experiencing discrimination is linked to poorer mental health, lower academic achievement and more engagement in risky or negative behavior, the latest analysis shows.
“We need to be thinking about what aspects of youths’ daily lives protect them from the negative effects of discrimination versus what aspects of their daily contexts exacerbate these negative effects,” says lead author Aprile D. Benner, a UT Austin human development and family sciences associate professor and faculty research associate in the Population Research Center. “Even more lofty, what can we do to intervene to try to reduce discriminatory treatment?”