Advertisement

Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 43, Issue 10, pp 1672–1687 | Cite as

Experiences of Racism, Racial/Ethnic Attitudes, Motivated Fairness and Mental Health Outcomes Among Primary and Secondary School Students

  • Naomi PriestEmail author
  • Ryan Perry
  • Angeline Ferdinand
  • Yin Paradies
  • Margaret Kelaher
Empirical Research

Abstract

While studies investigating the health effects of racial discrimination for children and youth have examined a range of effect modifiers, to date, relationships between experiences of racial discrimination, student attitudes, and health outcomes remain unexplored. This study uniquely demonstrates the moderating effects of vicarious racism and motivated fairness on the association between direct experiences of racism and mental health outcomes, specifically depressive symptoms and loneliness, among primary and secondary school students. Across seven schools, 263 students (54.4 % female), ranging from 8 to 17 years old (M = 11.2, SD = 2.2) reported attitudes about other racial/ethnic groups and experiences of racism. Students from minority ethnic groups (determined by country of birth) reported higher levels of loneliness and more racist experiences relative to the majority group students. Students from the majority racial/ethnic group reported higher levels of loneliness and depressive symptoms if they had more friends from different racial/ethnic groups, whereas the number of friends from different groups had no effect on minority students’ loneliness or depressive symptoms. Direct experiences of racism were robustly related to higher loneliness and depressive symptoms in multivariate regression models. However, the association with depressive symptoms was reduced to marginal significance when students reported low motivated fairness. Elaborating on the negative health effects of racism in primary and secondary school students provides an impetus for future research and the development of appropriate interventions.

Keywords

Racism Racial/ethnic attitudes Motivated fairness Mental health Children School 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The LEAD program is funded by the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth), the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) through its Diverse Australia program and beyondblue, Australia’s peak body for mental health issues. The current research was carried out as part of the LEAD program. The authors are part of the LEAD evaluation team. Naomi Priest was supported by an NHRMC post-doctoral fellowship and by the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation.

Author contributions

NP conceived of the study, participated in its design and coordination of data collection, assisted with statistical analysis and drafted the manuscript; RP participated in the design, performed the statistical analysis and helped draft the manuscript; AF participated in the design and data collection coordination; YP participated in conceiving the study and its design and advised on statistical analysis; MK participated in conceiving the study and its design and advised on statistical analysis. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

References

  1. Aboud, F. E., & Doyle, A.-B. (1996). Parental and peer influences on children’s racial attitudes. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 20(3/4), 371–383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aboud, F. E., Tredoux, C., Tropp, L. R., Brown, C. S., Niens, U., Noor, N. M., et al. (2012). Interventions to reduce prejudice and enhance inclusion and respect for ethnic differences in early childhood: A systematic review. Developmental Review, 32(4), 307–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aronson, E. (1992). The return of the repressed: Dissonance theory makes a comeback. Psychological Inquiry, 3(4), 303–311. doi: 10.1207/s15327965pli0304_1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2012). A picture of Australia’s children 2012. Canberra: AIHW.Google Scholar
  5. Bastos, J. L., Celeste, R. K., Faerstein, E., & Barros, A. J. D. (2010). Racial discrimination and health: A systematic review of scales with a focus on their psychometric properties. Social Science and Medicine, 70(7), 1091–1099.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Berman, G., & Paradies, Y. (2010). Racism, disadvantage and multiculturalism: Towards effective anti-racist praxis. Ethnic & Racial Studies, 33(2), 214–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chrobot-Mason, D., Ragins, B. R., & Linnehan, F. (2013). Second hand smoke: Ambient racial harassment at work. Journal of Management Psychology, 28(5), 470–491.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cogburn, C. D., Chavous, T. M., & Griffin, T. M. (2011). School-based racial and gender discrimination among African American adolescents: Exploring gender variation in frequency and implications for adjustment. Race and Social Problems, 3(1), 25–37.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Coker, T. R., Elliott, M. N., Kanouse, D. E., Grunbaum, J. A., Schwebel, D. C., Gillialand, M. J., et al. (2009). Perceived racial/ethnic discrimination among fifth-grade students and its association with mental health. American Journal of Public Health, 99(5), 878–884.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cristol, D., & Gimbert, B. (2008). Racial perceptions of young children: A review of literature post-1999. Early Childhood Education Journal, 36(2), 201–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Deng, S., Kim, S. Y., Vaughan, P. W., & Li, J. (2010). Cultural orientation as a moderator of the relationship between Chinese American adolescents’ discrimination experiences and delinquent behaviors. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 39(9), 1027–1040.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Department of Immigration and Border Protection. (2010). Settlement reporting facility. http://www.immi.gov.au/living-in-australia/delivering-assistance/settlement-reporting-facility/. Accessed March 22, 2014.
  13. Derogatis, L. R., & Savitz, K. L. (2000). The SCL-90-R and the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI) in primary care. In M. E. Maruish (Ed.), Handbook of psychological assessment in primary care settings (pp. 297–334). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  14. DeSalvo, K. B., Bloser, N., Reynolds, K., He, J., & Muntner, P. (2006). Mortality prediction with a single general self-rated health question: A meta-analysis. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 21(3), 267–275.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Devine, P. G., Plant, E. A., Amodio, D. M., Harmon-Jones, E., & Vance, S. L. (2002). The regulation of explicit and implicit race bias: The role of motivations to respond without prejudice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82(5), 835–848.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Douglas Low, K. S., Radhakrishnan, P., Schneider, K. T., & Rounds, J. (2007). The experiences of bystanders of workplace ethnic harassment. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 37(10), 2261–2297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Duckitt, J. (2001). A dual-process cognitive-motivational theory of ideology and prejudice. Advances in Experimental Psychology, 33, 41–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Edelman, S. (2013). Change your thinking. Sydney, NSW: ABC Books.Google Scholar
  19. Faulstich, M. E., Carey, M. P., Ruggiero, L., Enyart, P., & Gresham, F. (1986). Assessment of depression in childhood and adolescence: An evaluation of the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale for Children (CES-DC). American Journal of Psychiatry, 143, 1024–1027.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Ferdinand, A. S., Paradies, Y., & Kelaher, M. A. (2013). The role of effective partnerships in an Australian place-based intervention to reduce race-based discrimination. Public Health Reports, 128(Suppl 3), 54–60.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Festinger, L. (1957). A theory of cognitive dissonance. Redwood, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Ford, K. R., Hurd, N. M., Jagers, R. J., & Sellers, R. M. (2013). Caregiver experiences of discrimination and African American adolescents’ psychological health over time. Child Development, 84(2), 485–499. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2012.01864.x.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Foster, M. D., Sloto, L., & Ruby, R. (2006). Responding to discrimination as a function of meritocracy beliefs and personal experiences: Testing the model of shattered assumptions. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 9(3), 401–411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Garnett, B. R., Masyn, K. E., Austin, S. B., Miller, M., Williams, D. R., & Viswanath, K. (2013). The Intersectionality of discrimination attributes and bullying among youth: An applied latent class analysis. Journal of Youth and Adolescence. doi: 10.1007/s10964-013-0073-8.
  25. Graham, S., Munniksma, A., & Juvonen, J. (2013). Psychosocial benefits of cross-ethnic friendships in urban middle schools. Child Development,. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12159.Google Scholar
  26. Greenwald, A. G., & Ronis, D. L. (1978). Twenty years of cognitive dissonance: Case study of the evolution of a theory. Psychological Review, 85, 53–57.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Guerra, N. G., Williams, K. R., & Sadek, S. (2011). Understanding bullying and victimization during childhood and adolescence: A mixed methods study. Child Development, 82(1), 295–310.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Habtegiorgis, A. E., Paradies, Y. C., & Dunn, K. M. (2014). Are racist attitudes related to experiences of racial discrimination? Within sample testing utilising nationally representative survey data. Social Science Research, 47, 178–191. doi: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2014.05.002.
  29. Harrell, S. P. (2000). A multidimensional conceptualization of racism-related stress: Implications for the well-being of people of color. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 70(1), 42–57.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hoglund, W. L. G., & Hosan, N. E. (2013). The context of ethnicity: Peer victimization and adjustment problems in early adolescence. Journal of Early Adolescence, 33(5), 585–609.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hunter, S. C., Durkin, K., Heim, D., Howe, C., & Bergin, D. (2010). Psychosocial mediators and moderators of the effect of peer-victimization upon depressive symptomatology. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 51(10), 1141–1149. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2010.02253.x.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Johnson, P. J., & Aboud, F. E. (2013). Modifying ethnic attitudes in young children: The impact of communicator race and message strength. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 37(3), 182–191. doi: 10.1177/0165025412466522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Jost, J. T., & Banaji, M. R. (1994). The role of stereotyping in system-justification and the production of false consciousness. British Journal of Social Psychology, 33, 1–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Jost, J. T., Banaji, M. R., & Nosek, B. A. (2004). A decade of system justification theory: Accumulated evidence of conscious and unconscious bolstering of the status quo. Political Psychology, 25, 881–919.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Jost, J. T., & Hunyady, O. (2002). The psychology of system justification and the palliative function of ideology. European Review of Social Psychology, 13, 111–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Jost, J. T., Pelham, B. W., Sheldon, O., & Ni Sullivan, B. (2003). Social inequality and the reduction of ideological dissonance on behalf of the system: Evidence of enhanced system justification among the disadvantaged. European Journal of Social Psychology, 33(1), 13–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Juang, L. P., & Alvarez, A. A. (2010). Discrimination and adjustment among Chinese American adolescents: Family conflict and family cohesion as vulnerability and protective factors. American Journal of Public Health, 100(12), 2403–2409.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Katz, I., & Redmond, G. (2010). Review of the circumstances among children in immigrant families in Australia. Child Indicators Research, 3, 439–458.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kelly, Y., Becares, L., & Nazroo, J. (2013). Associations between maternal experiences of racism and early child health and development: Findings from the UK Millennium Cohort Study. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, 67(1), 35–41.Google Scholar
  40. Larochette, A.-C., Murphy, A. N., & Craig, W. M. (2010). Racial bullying and victimization in Canadian school-aged children: Individual and school level effects. School Psychology International, 31(4), 389–406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lee, H., & Turney, K. (2012). Investigating the relationship between perceived discrimination, social status, and mental health. Society and Mental Health, 2(1), 1–20.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lerner, M. J., & Miller, D. T. (1978). Just world research and the attribution process: Looking back and ahead. Psychological Bulletin, 85(5), 1030–1051.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. MacCallum, R. C., Zhang, S., Preacher, K. J., & Rucker, D. D. (2002). On the practice of dichotomization of quantitative variables. Psychological Methods, 7(1), 19–40.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Maggi, S., Irwin, L. J., Siddiqi, A., & Hertzman, C. (2010). The social determinants of early child development: An overview. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 46(1), 627–635. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1754.2010.01817.x.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Major, B., Kaiser, C. R., O’Brien, L. T., & McCoy, S. K. (2007). Perceived discrimination as worldview threat or worldview confirmation: Implications for self-esteem. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(6), 1068–1086.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Mansouri, F., & Jenkins, L. (2010). Schools as sites of race relations and intercultural tension. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 35(7), 93–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Markus, A. (2013). Mapping social cohesion: The scanlon foundation surveys national report 2013. Melbourne: Scanlon Foundation.Google Scholar
  48. Mischel, W., & Shoda, Y. (1995). A cognitive-affective system theory of personality: Reconceptualizing situations, dispositions, dynamics, and invariance in personality structure. Psychological Review, 102(2), 246.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Neto, F., & Barros, J. (2000). Predictors of loneliness among adolescents from Portuguese immigrant families in Switzerland. Social Behavior & Personality, 28(2), 193–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Nyborg, V. M., & Curry, J. F. (2003). The impact of perceived racism: Psychological symptoms among African American boys. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 32(2), 258–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Paradies, Y. (2006). A systematic review of empirical research on self-reported racism and health. International Journal of Epidemiology, 35(4), 888–901.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Paradies, Y., Chandrakumar, L., Klocker, N., Frere, M., Webster, K., Burrell, M., et al. (2009). Building on our strengths: A framework to reduce race-based discrimination and support diversity in Victoria Melbourne. VIC: Victorian Health Promotion Foundation.Google Scholar
  53. Pascoe, E. A., & Smart Richman, L. (2009). Perceived discrimination and health: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 135(4), 531–554.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Plant, E. A., & Devine, P. G. (1998). Internal and external motivation to respond without prejudice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75(3), 811–832.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Priest, N., Paradies, Y., Stevens, M., & Bailie, R. (2012). Exploring relationships between racism, housing and child illness in remote Indigenous communities. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 6(5), 440–447.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Priest, N., Paradies, Y., Trenerry, B., Truong, M., Karlsen, S., & Kelly, Y. (2013). A systematic review of studies examining the relationship between reported racism and health and wellbeing for children and young people. Social Science and Medicine, 95, 115–127.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Qualter, P., Brown, S. L., Munn, P., & Rotenberg, K. J. (2010). Childhood loneliness as a predictor of adolescent depressive symptoms: An 8-year longitudinal study. European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 19(6), 493–501. doi: 10.1007/s00787-009-0059-y.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Quintana, S., & McKown, C. (2007). The handbook of race, racism, and the developing child. New York: Wiley.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Ravens-Sieberer, U., Erhart, M., Rajmil, L., Herdman, M., Auquier, P., Bruil, J., et al. (2010). Reliability, construct and criterion validity of the KIDSCREEN-10 score: A short measure for children and adolescents’ well-being and health-related quality of life. Quality Life Research, 19, 1487–1500.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Sanders-Phillips, K. (2009). Racial discrimination: A continuum of violence exposure for children of color. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 12(2), 174–195.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Schaafsma, J. (2013). Through the lens of justice: Just world beliefs mediate relationships between perceived discrimination and subjective well-being. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 37, 450–458.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Shariff-Marco, S., Breen, N., Landrine, H., Reeve, B. B., Krieger, N., Gee, G. C., et al. (2011). Meausring everyday racial/ethnic discrimination in health surveys: How best to ask the questions, in one or two stages, across multiple racial/ethnic groups? Du Bois Review, 8(1), 159–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Steele, C. M., & Liu, T. J. (1983). Dissonance processes as self-affirmation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 41, 831–846.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Stevenson, H. C., & Arrington, E. G. (2009). Racial/ethnic socialization mediates perceived racism and the racial identity of African American adolescents. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 15(2), 125–136.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Stroebe, K., Dovido, J. F., Barreto, M., Ellmers, N., & John, M.-S. (2011). Is the world a just place? Countering the negative consequences of pervasive discrimination by affirming the world as just. British Journal of Social Psychology, 50, 484–500.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Tynes, B. M., Giang, M. T., Williams, D. R., & Thompson, G. N. (2008). Online racial discrimination and psychological adjustment among adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health, 43, 565–569.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Vanhalst, J., Klimstra, T. A., Luyckx, K., Scholte, R. H. J., Engels, R. C. M. E., & Goossens, L. (2012). The interplay of loneliness and depressive symptoms across adolescence: Exploring the role of personality traits. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 41(6), 776–787.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Walton, J., Priest, N., Kowal, E., Brickwood, K., Fox, B., White, F., et al. (2014). Talking culture? Egalitarianism, color-blindness and racism in Australian elementary schools. Teaching and Teacher Education, 39, 112–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Williams, J. E., Best, D. L., & Boswell, D. A. (1975). The measurement of children’s racial attitudes in the early schools years. Child Development, 46, 494–500.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Williams, D. R., & Mohammed, S. A. (2009). Discrimination and racial disparities in health: Evidence and needed research. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 32(1), 20–47.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Naomi Priest
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Ryan Perry
    • 3
  • Angeline Ferdinand
    • 3
  • Yin Paradies
    • 1
  • Margaret Kelaher
    • 3
  1. 1.Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation (CCG), Faculty of Arts and EducationDeakin UniversityBurwoodAustralia
  2. 2.McCaughey VicHealth Centre for Community Wellbeing, Melbourne School of Population and Global HealthThe University of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia
  3. 3.Centre for Health Policy, Melbourne School of Population and Global HealthThe University of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia

Personalised recommendations