Racism and Bullying

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This paper will answer the research question, what is the relationship between racism and bullying and the education of Hispanic young adults between the ages of 15 and 19. Racism, according to Schmid, (2008) is defined as the lack of equality based on a person’s race only. Bullying is repeated unwanted acts over a minimum of 6 months. As reported by Fry, (2002), only about 10% of Hispanic high school graduates enroll in a four- year college immediately after graduating high school. In a study conducted by Peskin, Tortolero, Markham, Addy & Baumler, (2007) 1 out of 10 Hispanic teens will endure some form of bullying during their high school career. It is also reported that constant bullying discourages teens from continuing receiving an education. Nora & Cabrera, (1996) found that Hispanics reported the lowest college enrollment rates as well as the highest dropout rates. The following paper will explore the social problem of racism and how it can be explained by a biological and sociological perspective. Additionally, I will give two interventions that target the social problem I am discussing.

Biological Analysis

Research has shown the correlation between racism and protective adaptation. Protective adaptation is animal or humans’ evolved way of being protected from danger by changing their body. Although this mechanism is most common in animals such as frogs, humans throughout the years evolved similarly. The brain plays a pivotal role in this adaptation. The brain interprets what is threatening and what is non-threatening and responds accordingly. When an individual is a victim of bullying that stems from racism and find it too overwhelming to manage, the brain along with systems of the body that include the cardiovascular and immune send out messages throughout the body McEwen,(2007). Sensors and hormones are released, and over time since if these protective mechanisms are released often it becomes a natural part of a person’s thought process. This gives reason as to why a Hispanic teen would be discouraged to achieve a higher education because of the racism they endured. Another study by McEwens & Gianaros, (2007) found that the hippocampus, amygdala, and areas of the prefrontal cortex of the brain regulate processes that can cause bodily adjustments in response to certain stimuli. Using both of these studies, not wanting to pursue a higher education is the brain’s way of protecting the individual from the unwanted situations caused by racism and bullying.

Sociological Analysis

When reading research conducted by Rygren, (2003), xenophobia is common in most people that are considered to be racist. Xenophobia is the fear of living or coexisting with people of different countries or cultures. People with this fear believe it is natural to act in a hostile way towards countries or cultures. A person that has xenophobia would show antagonistic behavior to a person to ensure people of them are aware that they are not welcomed and are not of the same status. Other social psychologists Yakushko, (2008) also found that people with xenophobia can also result in not the desire but the drive to ensure there is no competition in getting certain jobs or getting accepted into certain school by those who belong to specific races. This is a reason as to why Latinos are impacted in academic levels. People who express these biases aim to prevent them from furthering their education.


Natural supplements that can adjust the brain’s functioning can be effective in improving this social problem. Studies by Gad, Bateman, & Holtzheimer, (2017) have found that 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) can be used to reduce the levels of hormones released from the brain that cause an individual to feel overwhelmed by certain situations. By taking this supplement the brain would have no reason to release the sensors to protect the body due to an increased feeling of well being. 5- HTP also helps regulates the body’s dopamine and serotonin levels which in response causes the feeling of calmness. This can be taken as a pill, but it is also found in many foods such as turkey, chicken, milk, potatoes, pumpkin, sunflower seeds, turnips, and collard greens. Being that all that needs to be done is increase certain food intake or take pills this is not difficult. This intervention is culturally friendly because 5-HTP can be found in a plethora foods at are natural so it doesn’t require people of certain beliefs to go against what they believe in. In a two month study done on 78 people, 58% reported feeling better. In less than a quarter of a year more than half of the people expressed that they no longer constantly feel discouraged or put down by others. This method has reported high success rates. These changes can be measured by the individual’s behavior Söderpalm, B., Hjorth, S., & Engel, J. (1989). After taking 5-HTP, people report feeling confident in themselves and their abilities. The efficiency of this natural supplement can be determined by individuals choosing to do more activities that bring them out of their comfort zone or that are more public. This means that if this form of intervention were to be tested Hispanic teens would not only feel motivated but would take initiative to apply and enroll in college. The success of this intervention would create change in the Hispanic community in both a macro and micro level. On a micro level the individual going through this process will have the self confidence to apply, enroll, and complete their college careers. By doing this they not only will have a higher education, but it gives them the opportunity to apply for jobs that are not available for those who only have a high school diploma. On a macro level, college campuses will not only be more diverse, but there would be a higher probability of Hispanics going into higher status jobs such as government jobs. A Hispanic person can get elected into office for the first time just as President Obama was and bring change to the entire American population.

Another intervention that can be effective in improving this social problem is psychotherapy. As defined by Horvath, Re, Flückiger, & Symonds, (2011), psychotherapy is treatment in which a therapist and patient work together to improve mental conditions by focusing on their therapeutic relationship. By focusing on the relationship between the client and the therapist, the therapist can study their attitudes, behaviors, and thoughts. These therapy sessions target behaviors that affect family or social settings. Based on statistics found, the success rate for this form of invention varies. That is due to the fact that the success of psychotherapy is dependent on the relationship between the patient and therapist and finding a therapist that can connect to their client is difficult. As a result found by Brett & Kolko, (1999), only 34% of patients found therapy to be effective. However, when looking at statistics on studies based on children and young adults, teens’ therapy treatment reported to have a 92% success rate. Although adults only record a 34% success rate, children and teens are far more likely to have effective psychotherapy sessions. Psychotherapy is also culturally friendly. Since the goal of psychotherapy is to make the client feel as comfortable as possible with their therapist to help them better themselves, therapists are trained to accommodate to all cultures and religions. The efficiency of this intervention for racism can be determined by the person making new friends outside of their culture. Psychotherapy will specifically create change on a micro level. Its success and effects apply to the person seeking the help more than anyone else. Their views and standpoints are changed, and hopefully by the end of their therapy sessions they have a more positive view on other people. Since it is common for most people that are categorized to be racist have xenophobia, which as a result makes it nearly impossible to coexist with other racial groups, participating in psychotherapy would help eliminate their biased beliefs.


In my opinion psychotherapy would be the best intervention for racism and bullying affecting education because it is a one on one approach with a professional that is tailored to help the individual. Being that we are all individuals and no two people are exactly the same, I find it best to use an approach that is tailored for that specific person. As opposed to giving someone a generic treatment, I feel psychotherapy allows the client to express their own feelings which in turns give their therapist the opportunity to help them in a way that is best suiting for that specific person. The aspect that does not appeal to me is how long it takes until positive results are seen. It could take months and even up to years until the therapist can finally have a breakthrough with the patient. Regardless, I still feel that this is the best intervention because it fixes the root of the problem. Rather than teach someone how to cope with people treating them in an undesired way I find it more productive to teach someone how to treat everyone with respect. I also feel that this intervention does not cover up the problem, rather it digs deeper into it to then slowly resolve it. By doing this children and teens will more able to act in a non hostile tone around their peers. This in turn would cause those Hispanic teens affected by this social issue of racism and bullying to not be as discouraged from pursuing a college degree.


BOGDANSKI, D., WEISSBACH, H., & UDENFRIEND, S. (1958, February). Pharmacologic studies with the serotonin precursor, 5-hydroxytryptophan. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/13514606 Brett, D., & Kolko, D. (1999). Psychotherapy: Definitions, Mechanisms of Action, and Relationship to Etiological Models. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 26(1) Fry, R. (2002). Latinos in higher education: Many enroll, too few graduate. Pew Hispanic Center Gad, H., Bateman, D., & Holtzheimer, P. E. (2017). Neurostimulation Therapies, Side Effects, Risks, and Benefits. Oxford MedicineOnline.doi:10.1093/med/9780199374656.003.0016 Horvath, A. O., Re, A. D., Flückiger, C., & Symonds, D. (2011). Alliance in Individual Psychotherapy. Psychotherapy Relationships That Work, 25-69. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199737208.003.0002 Mcewen, B. S. (2007). Physiology and Neurobiology of Stress and Adaptation: Central Role of the Brain. Physiological Reviews, 87(3), 873-904. doi:10.1152/physrev.00041.2006 Mcewen, B. S., & Gianaros, P. J. (2010). Central role of the brain in stress and adaptation: Links to socioeconomic status, health, and disease. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1186(1), 190-222. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.05331.x Nora, A., & Cabrera, A. F. (1996). The Role of Perceptions of Prejudice and Discrimination on the Adjustment of Minority Students to College. The Journal of Higher Education, 67(2), 119. doi:10.2307/2943977 Peskin, M. F., Tortolero, S. R., Markham, C. M., Addy, R. C., & Baumler, E. R. (2007). Bullying and Victimization and Internalizing Symptoms among Low-Income Black and Hispanic Students. Journal of Adolescent Health, 40(4), 372-375.doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2006.10.010 Rydgren, J. (2003). Meso-level Reasons for Racism and Xenophobia. European Journal of Social Theory, 6(1), 45-68. doi:10.1177/1368431003006001560 Schmid, W. T. (1996). The Definition of Racism. Journal of Applied Philosophy, 13(1), 31-40. doi:10.1111/j.1468-5930.1996.tb00147.x Söderpalm, B., Hjorth, S., & Engel, J. (1989). Effects of 5-HT1A receptor agonists and L-5-HTP in Montgomery's conflict test. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 32(1), 259-265. doi:10.1016/0091-3057(89)90242-6 Yakushko, O. (2008). Xenophobia. The Counseling Psychologist, 37(1), 36-66. doi:10.1177/0011000008316034

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