Associations of ethnic/racial discrimination with internalizing symptoms and externalizing behaviors among juvenile justice-involved youth of color.

Research paper by Aerika Brittian AB Loyd, Anna L AL Hotton, Angela L AL Walden, Ashley D AD Kendall, Erin E Emerson, Geri R GR Donenberg

Indexed on: 06 Aug '20Published on: 10 Aug '19Published in: Journal of Adolescence


Youth of color (e.g., Black/African American and Latinx/Hispanic) are overrepresented in the juvenile justice system and experience greater health disparities compared to non-Hispanic White youth. Ethnic/racial discrimination (ERD) is a risk marker for poor mental health and behavioral outcomes among youth of color, and traumatic stress and emotion dysregulation have been implicated in these pathways. Despite the relevance of these factors for justice-involved youth of color, understanding of their interrelations within this demographic is lacking. Participants were 173 recently arrested adolescents (86% African American; 45% girls; ages 13-18) on probation in a large Midwest city in the United States. Participants completed surveys assessing ERD, traumatic stress, emotion dysregulation, internalizing symptoms, and externalizing behaviors. Using linear regression and path analysis, this study tested the cross-sectional links among two types of ERD (i.e., interpersonal experiences and perceptions of group experiences), traumatic stress symptoms, emotion dysregulation, and internalizing symptoms and externalizing behaviors. Interpersonal ERD (e.g., hearing racial insults) was associated with increased internalizing symptoms and externalizing behaviors; for internalizing symptoms, the relation was stronger for girls than boys. Gender differences were partially accounted for by traumatic stress symptoms and emotion dysregulation. This study offers new insights into ERD experiences among juvenile justice-involved youth of color, gender differences in ethnic/racial discrimination experiences, and the potential value of gender-sensitive and culturally responsive programming in strengthening youths' ability to cope with ERD. Copyright © 2019 The Foundation for Professionals in Services for Adolescents. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.