Doesn’t sound implausible to me, but we have to be careful. The cause and effect here isn’t clear. (It’s a puzzler, hence the image. Oy.) USA Today — best known these days as the paper that clutters your hotel-room doorway — has an article about study results from the May issue of the American Journal of Public Health. Some excerpts:
There is evidence that racial discrimination increases the odds that adolescents and adults will develop mental health problems, but this is the first study to examine a possible link in children of varied races, says Tumaini Coker, the study co-author and a RAND Corp. researcher and UCLA pediatrician.
It does not prove that discrimination caused the emotional problems, because unlike studies of older people, these children weren’t followed over time. It’s possible that prejudice harms children’s mental health, but it is also possible that troubled kids prompt more discriminatory remarks from peers or that children with emotional problems perceive more bias, says study leader Mark Schuster, a Harvard pediatrician and pediatrics chief at Children’s Hospital Boston.
The link between perceived racism and mental disorders is strong, he adds. For example, Hispanics who report racism are more than three times as likely as other children to have symptoms of depression; blacks are more than twice as likely; and those of “other” minority races have almost quadruple the odds.
Hispanics had the worst mental health effects, the study shows; perceptions of bias significantly increased their symptoms of all four disorders. About four out of five Hispanic children who felt prejudice had foreign-born parents. Black parents may buffer their children better, perhaps preparing them to expect some racism, Schuster speculates.
The study asked students whether they “ever” experienced racism, and that raises a question, says Rebecca Bigler, a University of Texas psychologist. In other research, children who report racism consistently say it rarely happens, she says. “We don’t know if it was a rare occurrence with these kids. Maybe it only has to happen once to be devastating if you’re young.”