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Research Suggests Fear Holds Back Students of Color

Youth researchers say fear is holding back students of color in major cities across the country. (urbantiki/morguefile)
Youth researchers say fear is holding back students of color in major cities across the country. (urbantiki/morguefile)
January 5, 2017

LANSING, Mich. – When it comes to overcoming obstacles for students of color, new research suggests fear may be one of the biggest.

Young people of color represent the fastest growing segment of the U.S. child population and, according to the youth support group America's Promise Alliance, a combination of fear and less access to opportunities places this group at an increased risk for health problems.

Linda Sprague Martinez is the primary author of "Barriers to Wellness: Voices and Views from Young People in Five Cities." She says young researchers in five large cities spoke with people of their own age to find out what makes them afraid.

The top answers were police interaction, community violence, lack of food, drug use and not enough access to college. Sprague Martinez says racism also was cited.

"If I'm going to cross over from my side of the neighborhood to another side of the neighborhood, that's a difficult choice to make because there could be a number of hazards that I would run into, or violence that I might experience just from moving from one side of the community to another side of the community," she explains.

The research was done in Boston, Chicago, Denver, Philadelphia and St. Paul.

Sprague Martinez says the answers were similar in each city, and she believes media coverage of violence isn't always balanced.

"We have a lot of shootings and violence that don't make the news in terms of what we hear, so if we use only what makes the news as kind of our thermometer around community violence, we miss a lot, particularly in communities of color," she explains.

Sprague Martinez says fear and stress can have negative effects on the body, leaving young people and adults alike at greater risk of chronic disease.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI