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There is a long list of social, institutional, and economic barriers that prevent too many boys and young men of color from reaching their full potential. They are more likely than their white peers to face risks in their community, in school, and at home that jeopardize their health and life chances. To better understand these barriers that America's young men of color face and promising ways for our nation to overcome them, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Forward Promise initiative—in partnership with the Moriah Group—commissioned seven issue briefs. These briefs, authored by leading researchers in academia and the social sector, examine quality education, suspension and expulsion, childhood trauma, and lack of early career opportunities.
The purpose of this brief is to highlight the great burden that trauma, violence, adversity, and the social determinants of health impose on the health of boys and men of color. To protect BYMOC from the potential harm inflicted on them—and to mobilize the resilience and promise these young people hold—providers, leaders and policymakers must understand the physical, emotional and societal effects of trauma, violence, and adversity. They must also recognize the implicit and explicit racism and stigma faced by BYMOC. Only with this understanding can leaders effect the fundamental transformation to ensure that BYMOC heal, thrive, and realize their fullest potential.
Young males of color constitute a disproportionately high percentage of our nation's non-high school graduate population. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey show that in 2012, 7% of all U.S. 16- to 24-year-olds were not enrolled in school and had not earned a high school diploma or equivalency credential. That same year, for the same age group, this rate (called the status dropout rate) was 10.9% for Black males, 15.0% for Hispanic males, and 14.8% for American Indian/ Alaska Native males. For each of these ethnicities, the status dropout rate for females was significantly lower (U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014, Table 219.80). The U.S. Census Bureau data also show a positive correlation between the incidence of young dropouts and levels of family poverty.
This brief presents the latest information regarding early childhood expulsions and suspensions with a special emphasis on how continuing gender and race disparities violate the civil rights of many of our youngest learners and contribute to our nation's costly achievement gap by locking our boys and African-American children out of educational opportunities and diminishing the ability of early education to provide the social justice remedy it was designed to produce.
A growing body of research reveals that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people experience a disproportionate amount of mental health challenges when compared with those who are heterosexual and cisgender. LGBTQ people, in general, have a higher prevalence of suicidal thoughts, attempts, and completions (Hatzenbuehler, 2011); depression and anxiety (Cochran, Sullivan, & Mays, 2003), and substance use and abuse (Marshal et al., 2008). LGBTQ people are more likely than heterosexual or cisgender people to have histories of childhood sexual abuse (Balsam, Lehavot, Beadnell, & Circo, 2010) and are more likely to be homeless (Rosario, Schrimshaw, & Hunter, 2012).This is true of young LGBTQ people as well. Studies find that young adults under 24 years of age who identify as LGBTQ, have a higher likelihood of depression and suicide than heterosexual youth (Marshal et al., 2013), are more likely to engage in self-harming behaviors (Jiang et al., 2010), and have increased rates of being a victim of bullying (Berlan, Corliss, Field, Goodman, & Austin, 2010) than their heterosexual counterparts.
Since beginning Forward Promise in 2011, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has taken a specific interest in promoting health and opportunity for young men of color (YMOC), ages 12 to 18. The foundation focuses on this population because the experiences and decisions that many of these young men face make their path to adulthood especially difficult and have a profound effect on their health and well-being throughout their lives.Through research that spanned the course of nearly two years, the foundation researched and developed messaging strategies that can raise awareness and support for investing in YMOC. The success of this research will help yield more support for solutions that remove barriers and create the opportunities these vulnerable young men need to succeed. The findings and analysis are summarized in this toolkit with recommendations for how to apply them to your work.
This executive summary provides a plan to maximize the potential of the private sector to work collectively with the public sector to improve life outcomes for America's boys and young men of color. The report outlines goals, identifies strategies for achieving those goals, and announces key initiatives and funding partnerships. [KEY FINDINGS]Goal 1: All boys and young men of color are health--socially, emotionally, mentally, behaviorally, and physically.Goal 2: All boys and young men of color are taught in rigorous, effective, culturally relevant, engaging, and supportive school environment.Goal 3: All boys and young men of color graduate from high school and postsecondary education prepared for success in their careers.Goal 4: Boys and young men of color's exposure to harm from the juvenile and criminal justice systems is dramatically reduced.Cross-sector strategies to improve outcomes for boys and young men of color include promoting youth leadership; changing harmful stereotypes; expanding place-based efforts; and building a pipeline of data, research, and innovation.
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