An interesting study in the Journal of Research on Adolescence has concluded that minority teenagers are aware of discrimination both explicit and subtly implicit from their peers and adults, and that this discrimination may more negatively affect the teenager’s physical and emotional health, and also their academic performance as well.
Given the current anti-immigrant sentiment in the country, one wonders how this will affect latino children growing up in the United States. Latino students, who may be the children of illegal immigrants, may feel an excessive amount of stress concerning whether their parents will deported and about changing attitudes about hispanic migrants which may be due to poor economic conditions in the United States.
Anti-illegal immigration laws such as Arizona’s SB 1070 have been widely debated in the media, and are supported by a majority of Americans in most polls. However, the emotional impact upon Latino children living in the United States, who may have either legal or illegal parents, could be devastating.
I remember when SB 1070 was passed in Arizona after Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed the bill into law and a Latina high school student openly wept on television. It was hard seeing a young person get so upset over this bill, especially since SB 1070 will likely never become law.
Many adults forget that teenagers often have poor self esteem, and are trying to understand their place in the world. While older Latinos may see SB 1070 as a political ploy propagated by Republicans who hope to turn the immigration debate to their benefit, teenagers may take the law much more personally and feel like they are less of a person because of it.
While the immigration debate will no doubt continue to divide America, adults have a responsibility for framing the debate in a responsible manner, and not my engaging in publicity stunts which needless worry Latino children living in the United States.