SAMHSA’s Office of Behavioral Health Equity: Racism, Discrimination, and Child Development

SAMHSA’s Office of Behavioral Health Equity, on June 5, 2020 response to a technical assistance question they received:

“Do we have anything handy/can we point to resources that might be good for people of color who have experienced long-term trauma related to discrimination or discrimination having serious negative effects on the development of children and their ability to thrive?”

Key Findings

  • Social class and childhood stress. Beginning in infancy, lower social class children are more likely to have strong, frequent, or prolonged exposure to major traumatic events, the frightening or threatening conditions that induce a stress response.
  • Income and childhood stress. The lowest-income children are more likely to be exposed to frightening or threatening experiences than other children.
  • Race and childhood stress. Black children are more likely than white children to be exposed to frightening or threatening experiences.
  • Childhood stress and depressed outcomes. Independent of other characteristics, children exposed to more frightening and threatening events are more likely to suffer from academic problems, behavioral problems, and health problems. These attributes present challenges to children’s school and life trajectories.

Population: Youth

Links to Resource:

Date: 2020

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