Fear Holding Back Students of Color

Education
Young people in urban areas say things they're afraid of include police interactions, community violence and lack of food. Photo Credit: Tatiyana Carter
Young people in urban areas say things they're afraid of include police interactions, community violence and lack of food. Photo Credit: Tatiyana Carter

Veronica Carter
Public News Service

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – A study done by youth researchers cites fear as a major barrier to wellness for students of color.

Youth of color represent the fastest growing segment of the United States’ child population, and, according to America’s Promise Alliance, fear and less access to opportunities place this group at an increased risk for poor health.

Linda Sprague Martinez, a research fellow with the Center for Promise, says young researchers in five large cities talked to people of their own age to find out what makes them afraid.

The top answers were police interaction, community violence, lack of food, drug use and not enough access to college.

Sprague Martinez says racism also was also cited.

“If I’m going to cross over from my side of the neighborhood to another side of the neighborhood that’s a difficult choice to make because there could be a number of hazards that I would run into, or violence that I might experience just from moving from one side of the community to another side of the community,” she explains.

The research was done in Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, St. Paul and Denver. Sprague Martinez says the answers were very similar in each city.

She maintains media coverage of violence isn’t always balanced.

“We have a lot of shootings and violence that don’t make the news in terms of what we hear, so if we use only what makes the news as kind of our thermometer around community violence, we miss a lot, particularly in communities of color,” she explains.

Sprague Martinez says fear and stress can have a negative effect on the body, leaving young people and adults alike at greater risk of chronic disease.

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