Ethnic-minority kids feel stigma in school

Aug. 30, 2011 at 8:00 PM
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NEW YORK, Aug. 30 (UPI) -- Children stigmatized because of ethnic-minority backgrounds often feeling devalued in school and feel more anxious about school, U.S. researchers say.

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, and New York University say children who are stigmatized because of ethnicity are more likely to have less interest in school, yet ethnic-minority children in this study reported high interest in school in the face of stigma.

More than 450 second- and fourth-graders in New York City with ethnic-minority backgrounds -- African-American, Chinese, Dominican and Russian -- or ethnic-majority backgrounds -- European American -- were studied.

The children were asked questions about their awareness of stigma, anxiety about school, interest in school and feelings of belonging in school.

Young children's awareness of stigma was similar to that of adults, with ethnic-minority children generally reporting more awareness and higher academic anxiety than ethnic-majority children, which researchers attributed to their greater awareness of stigma.

The study, published in the journal Child Development, says some ethnic-minority students reported significantly higher interest in school than their ethnic-majority peers, despite research showing awareness of stigmatization is associated with lower interest in school.

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