The Intersectionality of Discrimination Attributes and Bullying Among Youth: An Applied Latent Class Analysis


Discrimination is commonly experienced among adolescents. However, little is known about the intersection of multiple attributes of discrimination and bullying. We used a latent class analysis (LCA) to illustrate the intersections of discrimination attributes and bullying, and to assess the associations of LCA membership to depressive symptoms, deliberate self harm and suicidal ideation among a sample of ethnically diverse adolescents. The data come from the 2006 Boston Youth Survey where students were asked whether they had experienced discrimination based on four attributes: race/ethnicity, immigration status, perceived sexual orientation and weight. They were also asked whether they had been bullied or assaulted for these attributes. A total of 965 (78 %) students contributed to the LCA analytic sample (45 % Non-Hispanic Black, 29 % Hispanic, 58 % Female). The LCA revealed that a 4-class solution had adequate relative and absolute fit. The 4-classes were characterized as: low discrimination (51 %); racial discrimination (33 %); sexual orientation discrimination (7 %); racial and weight discrimination with high bullying (intersectional class) (7 %). In multivariate models, compared to the low discrimination class, individuals in the sexual orientation discrimination class and the intersectional class had higher odds of engaging in deliberate self-harm. Students in the intersectional class also had higher odds of suicidal ideation. All three discrimination latent classes had significantly higher depressive symptoms compared to the low discrimination class. Multiple attributes of discrimination and bullying co-occur among adolescents. Research should consider the co-occurrence of bullying and discrimination.

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B. R. Garnett would like to acknowledge the funders of her research and doctoral work including the Harvard Presidential Fellowship, the Harvard School of Public Health Maternal and Child Health Concentration and the Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders (STRIPED). We acknowledge the assistance of Deb Azrael of the Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center for access to and support with the Boston Youth Survey data. The Boston Youth Survey 2006 was funded by a grant from the CDC/NCIPC (U49CE00740) to the Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center (David Hemenway, Principal Investigator). The BYS was conducted in collaboration with the City of Boston and Mayor Thomas M. Menino and with the Boston Public Health Commission. B. R. Garnett would also like to acknowledge Dr. Stephanie Jones and her Ecological Approaches to Social-Emotional Learning (EASEL) at the Harvard Graduate School of Education for their support of this research.

Author Contributions

B.G. conceived of the study, conducted the statistical analyses and drafted the manuscript; K.M. guided the statistical analyses and interpretation of the data; S.B.A. participated in the design and coordination of the study and revision of manuscript; M.M. participated in the design of the study and revision of manuscript; D.W. participated in study design and coordination and revision of manuscript. K.V. guided the manuscript revision process, participated in the study design and coordination and assisted in the theoretical development. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Bernice Raveche Garnett.

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Garnett, B.R., Masyn, K.E., Austin, S.B. et al. The Intersectionality of Discrimination Attributes and Bullying Among Youth: An Applied Latent Class Analysis. J Youth Adolescence 43, 1225–1239 (2014) doi:10.1007/s10964-013-0073-8

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  • Intersectionality
  • Latent class analysis
  • Discrimination
  • Bullying
  • Attribution