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The intersection of school racial composition and student race/ethnicity on adolescent depressive and somatic symptoms

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  • Walsemann, Katrina M.
  • Bell, Bethany A.
  • Maitra, Debeshi
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    Abstract

    Schools are one of the strongest socializing forces in the U.S. and wield considerable influence over individuals' social and economic trajectories. Our study investigates how school-level racial composition, measured by the percentage non-Hispanic white students in a school, affects depressive and somatic symptoms among a representative sample of U.S. adolescents, and whether the association differs by race/ethnicity. We analyzed Wave I data from the US National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, resulting in a sample size of 18,419Â students attending 132Â junior and senior high schools in 1994/5. After controlling for individual and school characteristics, our multilevel analyses indicated that with increasing percentages of white students at their school, black students experienced more depressive symptoms and a higher risk of reporting high levels of somatic symptoms. After including students' perceptions of discrimination and school attachment, the interaction between black student race and school-level racial composition was no longer significant for either outcome. Our findings suggest that attending predominantly-minority schools may buffer black students from discrimination and increase their school attachment, which may reduce their risk of experiencing depressive and somatic symptoms.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 72 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 11 (June)
    Pages: 1873-1883

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:72:y:2011:i:11:p:1873-1883

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    Keywords: USA School segregation Mental health Discrimination School attachment School socio-economic status Adolescents Ethnicity;

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    Cited by:
    1. Bradby, Hannah, 2012. "Race, ethnicity and health: The costs and benefits of conceptualising racism and ethnicity," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(6), pages 955-958.

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