Qualitative Exploration of Adolescent Discrimination: Experiences and Responses of Mexican-American Parents and Teens

Andrea J. Romero, Henry Gonzalez, Bryan A. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The Integrative Model for the Study of Developmental Competencies in Minority Children argues that while discrimination and prejudice are normative experiences for ethnic minority children, promoting environments, family factors and adaptive culture may help minority youth develop effective coping strategies to deal with discrimination. Although this model emphasizes the critical role of family, there are relatively few studies on discrimination that include data from both parents and youth. In the current study, we qualitatively investigated themes of teen discrimination experiences and youth/parent responses in a sample (N = 40) of Mexican descent parents (n = 20) and middle school aged (11–15 years old) adolescents (n = 20) who participated in separate youth and parent focus groups. Adolescents indicate that stereotypes are pervasive, as evidenced in media, anti-immigrant comments, and insults from peers. Yet, adolescents expressed few specific strategies to deal with discrimination, and often expressed concern that standing up to discrimination may lead to physical altercation. Parents discussed the pervasiveness of prejudice and ethnic slurs, and specifically identified school as a setting where teens experience discrimination. Parents discussed strategies of teaching children not to use derogatory terms against others, telling them not to engage in fighting, encouraging children to report school incidents to teachers, and trying to prevent criminalization of male youth by talking to them about clothing choices. Mixed race families especially talked about inclusivity, ethnic/racial pride, and sharing family history (immigration, language, racial diversity). The Integrative Model for Developmental Competencies guides our discussion of implications for adolescent well-being and future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1531-1543
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015


  • Adolescents
  • Discrimination
  • Mexican-American
  • Parenting
  • Qualitative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


Dive into the research topics of 'Qualitative Exploration of Adolescent Discrimination: Experiences and Responses of Mexican-American Parents and Teens'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this