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Exposure to Multiple Forms of Bias Victimization on Youth and Young Adults: Relationships with Trauma Symptomatology and Social Support

NCJ Number
Journal of Youth and Adolescence Dated: 2020
Date Published

This study examined relationships between exposure to multiple types of bias-motivated victimization, trauma symptomatology, and perceived social support. 


Research has documented that a significant portion of youth are exposed to bias victimization; however, less is known about whether experiencing certain types of bias victimization (e.g., sexual orientation bias) is more or less likely to be related to a more extensive bias victimization history (i.e., experiencing multiple types of bias victimization) and whether exposure to multiple types of bias victimization explains any relationships between specific types of bias victimization and negative outcomes. In examining this issue, the current study surveyed 854 youth and young adults (60.9 percent female) from three higher risk communities to determine their personal experiences with bias-related victimization. The average age of participants was 16.6 years old; 28.5 percent of the sample described themselves as Black or African American; 13.4 percent as Hispanic or Latino (any race); 45.3 percent as White; and 12.8 percent as another race. Sixty-nine percent of the sample described their sexual orientation as heterosexual; 8.9 percent as gay, lesbian, or homosexual; 12.5 percent as bisexual; and 9.5 percent as another sexual orientation. Sixty-three percent of participants reported at least one type of bias victimization in their lifetime, and more than one in three youth (38.7 percent) experienced two or more types of bias victimization in their lifetimes (18.1 percent two types, 12.1 percent three types, and 8.5 percent four or more types). Experiencing multiple types of bias victimization was related to higher trauma symptomatology and less perceived social support. Experiencing multiple types of bias victimization attenuated or eliminated the association between individual types of bias victimization and well-being. The findings contribute to a growing body of research that demonstrates the damaging mental health effects of having multiple marginalized statuses, and points to the cumulation of bias victimization experiences as an important factor contributing to significant differences in well-being and support among youth and young adults. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2020