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 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by Grant R01HL084064 (PI: Dianne Neumark-Sztainer) from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute . The first author’s time was funded by Grant T32 MH082761-01 from the National Institute of Mental Health . The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute or the National Institutes of Health.

Copyright:
Copyright 2014 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

Keywords

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

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