Date of Award

2018

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Psychology

Abstract

Existing research on issues of race and police suggest that Black Americans and Latinx youth tend to have more negative experiences with, and views of, police than individuals from other ethnoracial groups. This finding is even more robust among Black American and Latinx youth, notably those living in low-income and high crime communities. The victimization and constant burden such perceptions of police and police interactions have on Black American youth can potentially cause psychological damage. When coupled with repeated exposure to social, economic, and racially-related stressors, the former may result in greater adverse psychological outcomes. However, resilience factors such as neighborhood context and ethnic identity may buffer the relationship. This thesis aimed to qualitatively and quantitatively identify the impact perceptions of police and police interactions may pose on internalizing symptoms for 81 Black American and Latinx youth, moderated by neighborhood context, ethnic identity membership, and gender. Unexpectedly, neutral to positive experiences with police significantly predicted higher levels of internalizing symptoms than neutral to negative experiences with police, with youth quantitatively equally reporting positive, neutral, and negative attitudes of police. Qualitative data, on the other hand, offered a more nuanced view of youth/police interactions. When asked open-endedly, youth reported more negative encounters with police than positive and neutral encounters. This inconsistency between youth attitudes of police and the reality of youth/police interactions, suggests potential desensitization of negative police encounters by urban youth of color. These findings have implications for a greater understanding of the extent to which police interactions impact youth psychosocial outcomes.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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