Discrimination Affect on Individuals and Society

America is the greatest, freest and most decent society in existence. (Dinesh D’Souza) If this were to be true, why do poverty, violence, crime, and discrimination still exist? Moreover, discrimination is an issue of great consequence. Discrimination: the unjust treatment of different people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex (English by Oxford Dictionaries). Hispanic discrimination began around 1848 when the United States won the Spanish-American War. If America is a great, free, and decent society, why is discrimination still a problem today, after all of these years? According to a Pew Research Center survey on race in America, 50% of high school graduates said they had regularly or occasionally experienced discrimination. The discrimination against Hispanic high school students is a major issue that can lead to mental health issues such as depression, aggression, and low efficacy.

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One of the major health issues caused by discrimination in high school is depression. The young minds of teenagers are fragile and sensitive, and discrimination drastically affects one’s mindset. A study led by Selcuk Sirin, associate professor of applied psychology at NYU Steinhardt, surveyed 173 Hispanic teens, grades 10-12 in New York City high schools. There were higher depression issues found in students in the eleventh and twelfth grade. The increase in symptoms of depression was a result of discrimination-related stress (Harrison 6 & 7). Depression leads to changes in appetite, sleep, energy level, concentration, and daily behavior. It also leads to other unhealthy issues, such as low self-esteem, isolation, and suicide. The outcome of these negative effects on teens will follow them in the future when entering society. Notably, some people believe the cause of depression is actually created outside of school. They believe that it may result from disputes or personal conflicts from home. This is proven incorrect by the article Discrimination Leads to Depression in Minority Children by Elements Behavioral Health. The article claimed, although personal reasons may be a cause, discrimination at school is more likely the cause of depression in students. The most common forms of discrimination were by being called insulting names or being accused unfairly of disrupting the class. The population of Hispanic students is continuously rising in America. These teenagers are the next growing generation; they are the future of society. Due to discrimination, their newly developing minds continue to be contaminated. This corruption prevents Hispanic students from entering the world with a full, healthy mindset.

The second major issue caused by discrimination in Hispanic students is aggression. The result of aggression in students from discrimination can lead to violence, which includes bullying, threats, and shootings. Aggression could also cause other behavioral issues such as alcohol consumption and drug use. The article, The Relationship Between Community Violence, Ethnic Discrimination, and Aggression claimed research reported exposure to higher levels of ethnic discrimination was positively related to aggression (?–zdikmenli-Demir 8). The outcome of the aggression and experience of discrimination could lead to threats of others and puts teens at a higher risk of criminal activities. The outcomes not only affect those Hispanics but affect other students around them, as well. An opposing view of aggression would be that it only affects the person and not those surrounded by their presence. The aggressive behavior from one student involves others since the behavior can consist of arguing with a teacher, blaming others, physical fighting and the disruption of class. Students who are discriminating are not punished for their actions. When a student discriminates, the ramifications that follow are simply receiving detention or a short-term suspension. This allows them to continue with those behaviors since there is no authority over them. Thus, a cycle of discrimination, consisting of those who get away with their actions, is created. When the victim disrupts class from the anger held inside, not only are they held accountable, but they also prevent themselves and others from learning. Those who are discriminated are then forced to believe they are to blame for their aggressive behavior which can lead to dangerously low self-esteem. The consequences of discrimination acted upon Hispanic students, in turn, affects society and can brutally affect the country. The increase of criminal activity, violence, exposure to alcohol and drug abuse pollutes the good of society. Those who are affected by aggression from discrimination are most likely to pass down their traits to their children. With a growing population in America, the risk of discrimination to Hispanics affects future generations in which, the rotting of society will continue.

The third mental health issue caused by discrimination against Hispanic students is low efficacy. Discrimination to a student can take a toll on their mental health by leading to a lack of confidence and efficiency. Lacking efficiency affects the person’s ability to overcome obstacles and makes them more likely to cease effort early and fail. The authors of a 2011 Child Development study, based at the University of Texas at Austin and UCLA, noted, when students lose confidence in themselves, they lose their ability to be self-efficacious (Thaler 2). The level of confidence one has contributes to how they approach goals, challenges, or tasks. Students having low self-efficacy instills difficult tasks to be avoided instead of mastered, further blocking them from reaching their potential. Individuals who are discriminated have low self-efficacy and are more likely to have unsuccessful outcomes in the future, which also diminishes their ability to achieve goals and tasks. A distinct opinion regarding efficacy would be that it does not affect the student’s education. To be efficient means to achieve maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense. Since low efficiency is an effect of discrimination, it affects the students’ amount of productivity. Having low productivity helps create a loss of interest to input effort and becomes a cause of the student’s struggle academically compared to their peers. A Hispanic student having low efficiency discourages their growth and skill development in which they may find tasks to be harder than they may be. Low self-efficacy strongly relates to their work performance in the future. Lacking confidence and low efficiency allow students to doubt themselves. In a society that is constantly moving and constantly advancing, when one has low efficiency, it negatively affects their ability to advance and create a stable living condition in the future. When this occurs, a cycle of slacking students is created and passed down among new generations, affecting the productivity of society.

Depression, aggression, and low efficiency are three mental health issues that result from the discrimination of Hispanic high school students. Due to harsh experiences, high school students’ fresh, evolving minds are damaged, thus preventing them from growing to their full potential. Constant discrimination against Hispanic students calls for the build-up of aggression, because of this, students grow accustomed to becoming violent. Following the increase of violence is room made for criminal activity to rise, creating a dangerous environment. As students continue to face discrimination, they encounter the loss of efficacy, thus resulting in them deprived of overcoming obstacles at the best of their ability. These factors of discrimination altogether affect the student’s ability for full growth when becoming an adult. It deprives them of making sensible choices for the future. If those Hispanic teens cannot succeed in the future, where does that leave society? Discrimination not only impacts the individual but as a consequence, will lead to the disunity and endangerment of the peace of the society. With the expanding population of Hispanic teens, if discrimination continues to rise, the society will be bound to dissolve.

Works Cited

  1. The Brutal History of Anti-Latino Discrimination in America. History.com, A&E Television Networks, www.history.com/news/the-brutal-history-of-anti-latino-discrimination-in-america.
  2. Dinesh D’Souza Quote. A-Z Quotes, www.azquotes.com/quote/381183.
  3. Discrimination Leads to Depression in Minority Children. Addiction Treatment | Elements | Drug Rehab Treatment Centers, Elements Behavioral Health, 17 Dec. 2016, www.elementsbehavioralhealth.com/mood-disorders/discrimination-leads-to-depression-in-minority-children/.
  4. Ethnic Identities of University Students. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2158244014541779#_i30.
  5. Krogstad, Jens Manuel. Roughly Half of Hispanics Have Experienced Discrimination. Pew Research Center, Pew Research Center, 29 June 2016, www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/06/29/roughly-half-of-hispanics-have-experienced-discrimination/.
  6. Latino Adolescents’ Experiences of Discrimination in High School. Journalist’s Resource, 19 June 2014, journalistsresource.org/studies/society/education/latino-adolescents-experiences-discrimination-high-school.
  7. Self-Efficacy. Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 2 Dec. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-efficacy.
  8. Discrimination | Definition of Discrimination in English by Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford Dictionaries | English, Oxford Dictionaries, en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/discrimination.
  9. Efficient | Definition of Efficient in English by Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford Dictionaries | English, Oxford Dictionaries, en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/efficient
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