Ethnic density in school classes and adolescent mental health.Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2010 Jun; 45(6):639-46.SP
The present study set out to examine the association between ethnic composition of school classes and prevalence of internalising and externalising problem behaviour among ethnic minority and majority students.
Data were derived from the Dutch 2002 Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) survey, a nationally representative cross-sectional study with a total of 5,730 adolescents, aged 11-18 and attending secondary school, of which 931 belong to ethnic minority groups. The data were analysed using a multilevel regression model.
The study revealed that, after taking individual characteristics like age, gender, educational level and family affluence into account, ethnic minority students on average report higher levels of externalising but not internalising problems. Ethnic density on the level of school classes modified this difference, as a negative association between the proportion ethnic minority students in class and externalising problem behaviour was found, but only for ethnic minority students. No effect of ethnic composition was found with respect to internalising problem behaviour.
The data revealed that ethnic minority students report higher levels of externalising problem behaviour, but only in classes with a minority of ethnic minority students and not in classes with a culturally diverse composition. This points towards a possible beneficial effect of a more culturally diverse environment for minority students. Majority students appeared to be insensitive for the ethnic density effect. Future studies should investigate the role of the ethnic composition of the school class more in-depth.