The intersection of school racial composition and student race/ethnicity on adolescent depressive and somatic symptoms
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.
Volume (Year): 72 (2011)
Issue (Month): 11 (June)
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