Dissertations and Theses

Date of Award


Document Type




First Advisor

Sarah O'Neill


racism, discrimination, depression, anxiety, somatization, resilience, children


This study’s objectives were to investigate how children’s experiences of discrimination impact the severity of their internalizing symptoms, and whether the relation between discrimination and internalizing symptom severity is moderated by resilience. It was predicted that children who had experienced more discrimination would have more severe internalizing symptoms, especially when they have low levels of resilience. Children [N=20; Mean (SD) age= 11.83 (2.50)] receiving low-cost music lessons in northern Manhattan were recruited into a larger study examining how learning music affects cognitive and emotional development. Children were interviewed in-person about experiences of discrimination because of their race/ethnicity using the Perceptions of Racism for Children and Youth. Children’s music teachers completed the Behavioral Assessment Scale for Children, Third Edition. The Anxiety, Depression, Somatization subscales were used to assess internalizing symptom severity, while the Resiliency subscale measured children’s resilience. The majority of children described being discriminated against at least once. Younger children's experiences were across a range of situations, while adolescents' experiences tended to be clustered around verbal disparagement. Children expressed negatively-valenced emotional responses and displayed active coping where they confronted the problem. Children with Low resilience tended to have more Somatization symptoms when they experienced discrimination in two or more contexts rather than zero or one context, whereas number of experiences of discrimination did not impact Somatization scores for children with High Resilience. Findings highlight the need to promote young people’s resilience to react, deal, and cope with experiences of discrimination.



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