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Racial and Social Class Prevalence of Psychopathology among School-Age Youth in the United States

NCJ Number
Youth & Society Volume: 28 Issue: 4 Dated: June 1997 Pages: 387-414
Paul A. McDermott; Margaret Beale Spencer
Date Published
July 1997
28 pages
This article examines youth psychopathology.
This article assesses the relative base rates of common forms of youth psychopathology among Whites, African Americans, Hispanics, and rarer minorities and across social classes as defined by parent education levels. A nationwide sample of 1,400 participants aged 5 to 17 years was stratified demographically according to the U.S. census. Standardized teacher observational scales were applied and the most maladjusted youths identified in terms of attention-deficit hyperactive, provocative-aggressive, impulsive-aggressive, oppositional defiant, diffident, and avoidant disorders. Most psychopathology was distributed proportionately across race and class. Patterns displayed by maladjusted White participants were not uniformly common among minorities, with racial or ethnic groups manifesting variable propensity for pathology, depending on level of social advantage and specific type of disorder. Implications are explored as they relate to distinct cultural and social contexts, to popular contemporary perceptions, and to future research and policy development in youth psychopathology. Abstract published by arrangement with Sage Journals.