PediatricsORIGINAL ARTICLE

Racial discrimination among children in the United States from 2016 to 2020: an analysis of the National Survey of Children’s Health

Covenant Elenwo, MPH; Amy Hendrix-Dicken, MA; Vanessa Lin, BA; Ashton Gatewood, MPH; Tessa Chesher, DO; Michelle Escala, MD; and Micah Hartwell, PhD
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: August 18, 2022

Accepted: October 20, 2022

Published: November 10, 2022

  • Covenant Elenwo, MPH, 

    Office of Medical Student Research, Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine at Cherokee Nation, Tahlequah, OK, USA

  • Amy Hendrix-Dicken, MA, 

    Department of Pediatrics, University of Oklahoma School of Community Medicine, Tulsa, OK, USA

  • Vanessa Lin, BA, 

    Office of Medical Student Research, Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, Tulsa, OK, USA

  • Ashton Gatewood, MPH, 

    Office of Medical Student Research, Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine at Cherokee Nation, Tahlequah, OK, USA

  • Tessa Chesher, DO, 

    Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, Tulsa, OK, USA

  • Michelle Escala, MD, 

    Department of Pediatrics, University of Oklahoma School of Community Medicine, Tulsa, OK, USA

  • Micah Hartwell, PhD, 

    Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, Tulsa, OK, USA

Abstract

Context: Sociological research has linked racism and discrimination among children to poorer health outcomes and social conditions later in life.

Objectives: Given the change in the political climate in the United States, highly publicized deaths of Black men and women by police, and the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans from 2016 through 2020, our primary objective was to assess trends in racial or ethnic discrimination among children in the United States.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of the National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH), a nationally representative survey, utilizing data from 2016 to 2020. We calculated yearly population estimates of whether a child had experienced discrimination based on race/ethnicity via a parent-reported item. We further divided the estimates by race/ethnicity and plotted linear trends over time.

Results: Data from the NSCH show that racial/ethnic discrimination reported by parents of children who are minorities increased from 6.7% in 2016 to approximately 9.3% in 2020. Indigenous children were reported to experience discrimination at high rates ranging from 10.8% in 2016 to 15.7% in 2020, as well as Black children ranging from 9.69% in 2018 to 15.04% in 2020. The percent of Asian, Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, and Hispanic children reported to have experience discrimination was between 4.4 and 6.8% during this time.

Conclusions: Discrimination negatively impacts the developmental experiences of children, disproportionately affecting those identifying as Indigenous and Black. Therefore, addressing harmful stereotyping of Indigenous and Black cultures is necessary, especially in media targeted toward children. Providing culturally competent healthcare, critically in the Indigenous and Black pediatric population, may improve long-term outcomes by reducing discriminatory barriers to healthcare access.

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