Young children's ethnic-racial identity moderates the impact of early discrimination experiences on child behavior problems
Objectives: Experiences of ethnic-racial discrimination are associated with a host of problems in adolescence and adulthood, yet little is known about if and how such experiences influence children. Likewise, ethnic-racial identity (ERI) research has focused on adolescent and adult development to the detriment of understanding if and how ERI might influence early development, particularly in the context of ethnic-racial discrimination. To address these gaps, this study tested the hypotheses that a) children's perceived experiences of ethnic-racial discrimination would predict elevated behavior problems, and b) children's ERI with respect to their exploration of the meaning of their ethnicity-race and their sense of commitment to their ethnic-racial group(s) would mitigate this relation. Method: Path analyses evaluated the prospective contribution of children's perceived ethnic-racial discrimination at age 7 (N = 172) to examiner ratings of internalizing and externalizing behavior problems one year later as moderated by child-reported ERI. Results: Perceived experiences of ethnic-racial discrimination predicted increased internalizing and externalizing behavior problems one year later, but only among children who had relatively less-well developed ERI, particularly with regard to their sense of commitment to their ethnic-racial group(s). Conclusion: These findings document the incidence and the prospective negative impact of children's experiences of ethnic-racial discrimination on their behavioral adjustment, while illuminating the heretofore underappreciated protective role of ERI on children's development in contexts of discrimination. By cultivating ERI among children, parents, educators, and other community leaders can help children navigate institutionalized racism, and the prejudicial attitudes and discriminatory practices it engenders.
Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology
Marcelo, Ana K. and Yates, Tuppett M., "Young children's ethnic-racial identity moderates the impact of early discrimination experiences on child behavior problems" (2019). Psychology. 534.