Weightism, racism, classism, and sexism: Shared forms of harassment in adolescents

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Abstract

Purpose: To document the prevalence of harassment on the basis of weight, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, as well as sexual harassment, among a diverse population of adolescents. Specifically, this study examined rates of each type of harassment reported across groups within the corresponding sociodemographic category (e.g., racial/ethnic category differences in prevalence of racial harassment), and also explored patterns of "cross-harassment" (i.e., differences in prevalence of each harassment type across all other sociodemographic characteristics). Methods: We used data from Project Eating and Activity in Teens 2010 for the study. The sample was composed of 2,793 adolescents (53% female; 81% nonwhite). We conducted regression analyses to yield prevalence estimates of each type of harassment in each demographic and body mass index category. Results: Weight- and race-based harassment (35.3% and 35.2%, respectively) was most prevalent, followed by sexual harassment (25.0%) and socioeconomic status-based harassment (16.1%). Overweight and obese adolescents reported disproportionately higher rates of all forms of harassment than did normal-weight and underweight adolescents. In addition, Asian and mixed-/other race adolescents were more vulnerable to harassment overall compared with those from other racial/ethnic groups. Conclusions: Harassment experiences are prevalent among adolescent boys and girls. Differential rates of each type of harassment are reported across groups within the corresponding sociodemographic category, but a pattern of cross-harassment also is evident, such that differences in prevalence of each type of harassment emerge across a variety of sociodemographic characteristics. Adolescents from various intersecting sociodemographic and weight-status groups are particularly vulnerable to certain types of harassment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-53
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Volume53
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2013

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Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Ethnicity
  • Harassment
  • Race
  • Sexual harassment
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Teasing
  • Weight

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