A new policy statement explains the negative impact of racism on youth.

We’ve written previously about how racism affects the health and well-being of millions of Americans. The evidence demonstrates that people who experience racial discrimination are more likely to have a range of health problems, including poorer mental health and a lower quality of life.

Now the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a policy statement describing how racism affects the well-being of young people. The statement summarizes all of the evidence available on the role that discrimination plays in the health outcomes of children and adolescents.

The problem comes down to stress, the policy document explains. When the mind senses a potentially harmful situation, it tells the body to prepare by increasing its heart rate, breathing, blood pressure and releasing stress hormones. This response helped earlier humans outrun or fight predators and enemies. Today, people have the same response when they encounter stressful situations, such as discrimination.

When people of color experience this response frequently, it causes inflammatory reactions in their bodies that can ultimately lead to immediate health problem and, in the long run, chronic diseases. Researchers now believe that racial disparities have far-reaching effects as children develop, including infant mortality rates, mental health problems (e.g., depression and anxiety), and behavioral issues (e.g., attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

And the health effects extend beyond the children who experience discrimination. When children observe racism, it can erode their self-confidence and mental health enough to affect developmental milestones and achievement in school. This is especially true when the discrimination is affecting the children’s parents. For example, in one study, parents and caregivers who reported they had been treated unfairly were more likely to have children with behavioral issues.

Beyond describing the problem, the policy statement gives specific directions about how pediatricians can address this issue. It starts by building a medical practice where everyone feels welcome. That means having racially-diverse toys and pictures on the walls in waiting rooms, and training the reception staff to welcome all patients.

And it extends to advocating in the community for quality education for all, access to mental health services, a diverse school staff, fair housing, alternatives to youth incarceration and more.

Cornell psychologist Anthony Ong’s work focuses on the complex interplay of social, emotional, cognitive and cultural resources that people draw upon to adapt to stressful life circumstances as they age, and the ways these factors have an effect on health and well-being. Addressing the systemic problems in our society is likely the most effective ways to improve the health and well-being of minority youth.

“As a psychologist, I study the ways in which interpersonal racism can have harmful consequences for peoples’ life chances, including their psychological and physical health,” he said. “However, it’s important to keep in mind that perhaps the most profound effects of racism occur via macro-level systems or public policies that shape access to social and economic resources. These are the systems that produce and reproduce everyday racism and its ill effects through time.”

The take-home message: Racism has detrimental consequences across the lifespan. Because racism has been embedded in our culture for centuries, it will take a conscientious effort from people across society to remedy the problem.

Visit Cornell University’s Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research’s website for more information on our work solving human problems.

6 thoughts on “How Racism Affects Youth Health and Well-being”
  1. Bro.Jeff “504” Thomas, very perceptive on your part to include this narrative [article], on the subject how: Racism negatively impacts young people both socially & physically development!

    1. Racism, The Law of Pitch and Catch Part 2…

      LBRC- All The Proof We Need!!! The Law of Sowing and Reaping, True or False?

      1. We traveled The Middle Passage, Destruction plus incredible devastation was our physical and intellectual companion, apprehension all along the route! 

      In 2019, Hurricanes travel ‘Dat same middle passage, proving to all and us especially,  more than ever, “The Oppressor’s Power and Authority is Puny”! Their (g)of is not our GOD!!!

      2. COENTEL Pro? You invested public tax dollars in order to infest our communities with Dope, Drugs and Filth. 

      Now you invest Public Tax Dollars in ridding your own community of Dope, Drugs, Filth plus Recovery from Addiction of your own, brought in by your own aka Lots of practice!  

      3. You established and instituted “Jim Crow”! You Designated Fountains “White Only” and “Colored Only”! 

      In 2019 Pb, Lead, is barely contained and leachate pollutes major cities and “Water Tables”! If designated White Only and Colored Only in 2019, what’s the difference? Water pollution is universal and “Pollution” does not discriminate! Contemporary Share Cropper lands are healthier than gentrified urban centers! Urban leaders are Science Morons as is Maintenance! Suburban Cess Pools so- called Purification Systems and Home Basement Polluting Sun Pumps are as well! Duh? 

      4. You initially called our Urban Schools, plush with Security and Weapons Detectors, “Minnie Prisons”! You ought to know, you and your Coons designed and ran them! 

      Now “your” schools are just as plush with Security Guards and Weapons Detectors! Additionally, whacked predators inflict violence on par with respect to what The KKK do and did to ours aka “White on White Crime”! Now yours comprehend how tenuous life can be when The Insane are allowed to kill “Willie ‘Nilly”, unchecked! The Racist “you” put in The Oval Office and your Kentucky Senate Leader is complicit via inaction! You never had a Malcolm X, therefore- “You been duped, you been shucked and ‘jived, bamboozled, you been had”! You accused Barack an Anti- Christ, now ‘yah got a “Real”, not “Fake” one! Gee Thanks Southern Baptist and Tele- Evangelist! 

      5. We are perennially, “last hired, 1st fired”! Our unemployment rates are always off the charts! We were “The Great Migration”! Here’s a heads up- The next financial crisis favors those who know how to do more with less. We don’t now and never had “It”! Our kids typically, will inherit a “Net” Median Value not even close to what Grandma/Grandpa had. Know what you’re thinking? Here’s the kicker- The 2019 “Negro Construct” has assimilated and is just as disobedient as those who followed Moses out of Egypt. They will reap what they have assimilated into. Your growing suicide rate is nearly commensurate with “Negro Constructs” who use Plastic Softeners/Phthalates to poison their scalps, Bleaches to poison their skin and Chemically Modified Poison Nails to poison their “Finger ‘Lickin Good in a bad way” Fried Chicken!

      6. We were legally forbidden to learn to read. If you think ‘Dats bad, say “Appalachia and MAGA”/non College Educated, mostly! Illiteracy, Drug Abuse and “Black Lung” are nearly ubiquitous in Appalachia! The Lungs of MAGA Supporters fuel protestations about  “Black Dung”? LOL? What ‘Dey talking ’bout- What’s inside a typical Appalachian Lung? 

      7. Don’t get this twisted- Initially, “He” wished ‘Dat none should perish! Grandma asked- “What happened to trash in The Garden of Eden” aka “Paradise”? Ans. The “Same” ‘Dat handled garbage in Eden, is The Same ‘Dat will dispose of it in 2019!!! 

      Is ‘Dis ‘Thang on! Peace Out…

  2. LBRC- Thinking About Great Civilizations Like Timbucktu, Egypt and on…, One of The Most if Not The The Most Devastating Impact About Racism has To Be “Devolution”! 

    1. Stereotypes drive Racism! What is a Syereotype aka Junk Science? 

    b. Stereotype/Webster online: to repeat without variation : make hackneyed! Definition of hackneyed- noun- lacking in freshness or originality!

    2. Who succumbs to “Junk Science”? Ans. Racist and The American Negro “Social Construct”! How so?…

    a. Millions of Negroes look into mirrors and see? Ans. What they’ve been trained too! Speaking “Dialectic Materialism”, generally? Achieving Social and/or Environmental Efficacy involves “2” Fundamental Approaches-

    *Approach #1 (The Goebbels Paradigm)…

    Plant a thought and ‘Dat thought will manifest via “Drill”! Elementary Education emphasizes “Drills”! American Negroes have endured “Inferiority Drills” over hundreds of years! How effective? In 2019 Negroes typically “Socially Shrank” and “Mentally Vacate Intellectual Side Walks” for Caucasions and “Unless ‘Massa says it”, what others say is of little to no effect! The Willie Lynch Letter said- “Believe only ‘Massa”! Keep it real- Lots of Negroes, too many- “Only believe ‘Massa”, why they so easily disrespect indigenous expertise and will tout ‘Massa’s like a badge of honor in their best King’s! 

    What else has been planted and back to what too many American Negroes see in a mirror? Definitely not The Most High! Negroes poison their heads with dyes/ Carcenogens/Pthlathes (Unnatural Blondes, Red Heads), wear “Colored” Contacts, Pun Intended, ascribe to European Standards of so- called Natural Beaty! Why? Ans. Racism tells them 24/7/365 everything ugly about ‘Dat reflection in ‘Dat mirror! Only those intellectually/Spiritually capable of flying over “The Cukoo Nest” achieve “Escape Velocity”! “Thoughts Manifest Environments”!!!  

    *Approach 2 

    Create and/or Construct a “Desired” Environment and ‘Dat Environment will “Promote Thoughts” which in turn will achieve a desired result by those desiring efficacy who in fact constructed it to achieve their agenda (Racist)! Adage- “Sleep with, think dog, wake up with or think fleas”! Grandma said- “Going thru a rough patch, paint your walls white”! When asked why? Grandma says- “Blank walls free up imagination, then allow you to paint your own picture onto ‘Dat wall! Additionally, make sure your environment remains clutter and filth free! ‘A messed up house is a messed up mind’! Think filthy, be filthy “Manifest” it! A Cukoo’s Nest manifest where a Cukoo lives! Cukoo(s) is Cukoo fabulous and ‘Gutto Fabulous thinks, reside where? Just ‘askin…

    2. Racism has achieved what with respect to efficacy?

    a. Everything outlined in this 504 article. 

    b. Devolution! Not only with respect to a “Chosen Seed” (Those Conscious About Who and What They Really Are!!!), but Racism is akin to “Tearing down every building taller than yours in order to be able to say- “Mine is the tallest” aka “When you can’t be, you’ll be what you are and not at the same time”! 

    3. The Tragedy of Racism is so profound and has been so effacious via Steps 1 and 2- Zombies infest Negro Communities- Stealing, Murdering one another (Chronological Adults and Children murder for- Clothes, Tennis Shoes yada…), Buck Dancing self effacing in “Black Face” Stereotypes then rationalize (Genesis With ‘Massa)! Now say Goebels as delineated by Carl Degler!)! Without a doubt, “Devolution”!!! Peace Out…

  3. As usual your selection of topics to highlight & discuss are always critically important for our people must explore in great detail in order to understand what is actually taking place in this country & world, in order to arrive at the best decisions to be made!!

  4. […] Stress can make everything else I do harder. So when I’m moving through my many commitments, I’m also focusing on my breathing. If stress arises, I acknowledge the cause and then I slowly and thoughtfully inhale and exhale. It helps me recenter. I’ve seen stress cause people to smoke, drink alcohol, eat excessively, or be sedentary—and all those things can increase the risk of colon cancer.A version of this story originally appeared in the October 2019 issue of Men’s Health, with the title “Doctor’s Guide to Colon Cancer.” […]

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