The influence of perceived racial discrimination on depressive symptoms and school outcomes among Asian American adolescents /

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Bibliographic Details
Author / Creator:Kim, Tae Yeun, author.
Ann Arbor : ProQuest Dissertations & Theses, 2015
Description:1 electronic resource (137 pages)
Format: E-Resource Dissertations
Local Note:School code: 0330
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Other authors / contributors:University of Chicago. degree granting institution.
Notes:Advisors: Yoonsun Choi Committee members: Tracy Harachi; Julia Henly; Miwa Yasui.
Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 77-02(E), Section: A.
Summary:Asian American (AA) adolescents typically receive attention for their successful academic achievement, but rarely for their difficulties and problems. They show a paradoxical and unique developmental pattern of poor psychological well-being despite fewer problem behaviors and better school outcomes. To shed light on this unique pattern, the current study examines one of the factors that might be most important, although largely unexplored: racial discrimination. In addition, significant differences exist in youth outcomes across Asian subgroups. Specifically, this study examines how perceived racial discrimination influences depressive symptoms and school outcomes among three subgroups of AA adolescents, those of Cambodian, Korean, and Vietnamese dissent. It considers whether and how co-ethnic friendship, ethnic identity, and social support mediate the negative influence of perceived discrimination on depressive symptoms and school outcomes for Cambodian American (CA), Korean American (KA), and Vietnamese American (VA) adolescents.
Two datasets were used: one from the Korean American Families (KAF) Project and the other from the Cross Cultural Families (CCF) Project. The KAF Project surveyed KA (n = 220) adolescents in middle school and their parents living in Midwest metropolitan areas in 2007 and 2008. The CCF Project is a five-year longitudinal study of a panel of CA (n = 164) and VA (n = 163) youth and their mothers, which started in 2001 with third through sixth graders in a Pacific Northwest public school district. The present study used Time 1 data for youth (KAF) collected in 2007 and Wave 4 data for youth (CCF) collected in 2004, in which youth participants' age ranges were comparable between the three groups. Path analysis was conducted using MPlus to test the hypothesized relationships between perceived discrimination and adolescent outcomes (i.e., depressive symptoms, school misbehaviors, grades) and several mediators (i.e., co-ethnic friendship, ethnic identity, social support).
The results are consistent with a story that suggests that perceived discrimination increased depressive symptoms for KA and VA adolescents, but it increased school misbehaviors only for CA adolescents. Among KA adolescents, perceived racial discrimination increased ethnic identity, which in turn increased social support, thereby reducing depressive symptoms. The results for KA adolescents show the significant mitigating role of the mediators on the negative impact of perceived discrimination on mental health. Conversely, among VA adolescents, perceived discrimination was not associated with ethnic identity, but ethnic identity was related to social support, which in turn was associated with lower depressive symptoms, fewer misbehaviors in school and better grades. Similarly, among CA adolescents, discrimination and ethnic identity were not significantly associated, but having more co-ethnic friendship was related to more social support, and related to lower depressive symptoms, fewer misbehaviors in school and better grades.
This study offers insights into the way in which perceived racial discrimination may exert a negative impact on children's mental health and school outcomes and how the mechanisms that explain this relationship vary across AA subgroups. The results provide several implications for practice. For example, ethnic identity and social support should be targeted for intervention as they could improve the mental health and academic outcomes of youth across all AA subgroups. Perceived discrimination increases ethnic identity, but only among KA youth. This finding might indicate that the experience of adversity can be less detrimental if adversities such as racial discrimination can serve as an opportunity to strengthen a protective factor like ethnic identity. It is intriguing, however, that perceived racial discrimination did not strengthen ethnic identity among VA and CA adolescents. These findings of varying mechanisms across subgroups provide additional empirical support to tailor interventions for various AA subgroups.