On NBC News, Claretta Bellamy reports on a new study from JAMA Psychiatry examining the impact of specifically targeted racism, such as messages and memes, on Black children and teens:
“Mounting evidence shows the devastating toll online racism takes on Black youth.
According to a study published Wednesday in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, Black children and teens who experience racial discrimination online may develop symptoms related to post-traumatic stress disorder.
Those PTSD symptoms, the researchers found, were also potentially linked to suicidal thoughts.
The suicide rates of Black youth have risen over the past two decades, said study co-author Ashley Denise Maxie-Moreman, PhD, a pediatric clinical psychologist at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C.
A 2023 report from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that from 2007 to 2020, the suicide rate in Black children and teens ages 10 to 17 increased by 144% — the fastest increase compared to other racial and ethnic groups.
The researchers suspected that online racism might play a role in suicide risk. . . .
The new study included data from 525 Black children and teens, ages 11 to 19, collected in late 2020. The researchers looked at online racial discrimination directed specifically to an individual, such as a racist meme or messaging. (A separate study, in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, found that Black teens reported experiencing an average of five instances of racial discrimination per day.)
In response to online racism, the children and teens in the study reported several symptoms of PTSD, Maxie-Moreman said, including feeling on guard and isolated, having intrusive thoughts that won’t go away, and uncontrollable distress.
The researchers found that children and teens who experienced racism online were more likely to report PTSD symptoms, and that those who developed PTSD symptoms were more likely to report suicidal thoughts. However, they didn’t find that experiencing online racism directly led to an increased likelihood of suicidal thoughts. Maxie-Moreman said a larger study could help uncover whether there is a direct link between the two.”
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