Living With Intolerance

It’s hardly a revelation that adolescents belonging to visible minorities often face racial/ethnic discrimination.   Cases such as the Trayvon Martin shooting have polarized American society and generated anger that will likely take years to die down.   Many African American,  Hispanic, Oriental or other visible minority adolescents across North America can describe experiences from their own lives in which they experienced discrimination, whether from teacher, police officers or even people of their own age.  

But what kind of psychological toll can this kind of unfair treatment have on young people?  Whether it takes the form of police accusing them of acting “suspiciously” in public places, being harshly disciplined at school, or receiving verbal or physical abuse from peers, the impact lingers over time.    Though psychologists have long studied the impact of discrimination on minority adolescents, there are still  unanswered questions about what causes the discrimination to happen and the how adolescents can deal with it.

Ironically,racial and ethnic tension in schools and neighbourhoods often rises with increased ethnic diversity.    As more minority groups come in and the proportion of established minority group populations change, cultural clashes create a negative racial or ethnic climate.  This triggers greater tension as well as incidents of verbal or physical abuse.  Since teaching staff  are often unable to keep up with these changes, minority group members often see themselves as being “on their own” and not being able to rely on authority figures to help.

To read more, check out my new Psychology Today blog post.


Related Stories

  • Interpersonal Violence and Mental Health
  • WHO Releases New Guidelines for Treating Acute Traumatic Stress
  • How Impressed Are Jurors with Risk Measures?


The information provided on the is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her health professional. This information is solely for informational and educational purposes. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Neither the owners or employees of nor the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading this site. Always speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. Please see our Legal Statement for further information.

PsyWeb Poll

Are you currently taking or have you ever been prescribed anti-depressants?
Total votes: 3979