Immigrant youth are better able to handle discrimination, have fewer emotional problems, and get along better in school and in the community when they remain strongly attached to their own ethnic culture rather than try to melt into a national culture, a Queen’s University-based international psychological study has found. They do even better when they have a double attachment to both the national society and to their heritage culture.
Encompassing more than 5,000 interviews with immigrant youth in 13 countries, the study is the world’s most exhaustive examination of how the children of first-generation immigrants adapt in a new culture. Immigrant Youth In Cultural Transition: Acculturation, Identity and Adaptation Across National Contexts, will be published early next year by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Amongst its comprehensive findings, the study concludes that a strong ethnic identity may have a “buffering effect” against discrimination – “Adolescents who are confident in their own ethnicity and proud of their ethnic group may be better able to deal constructively with discrimination, for example, by regarding it as the problem of the perpetrator or by taking proactive steps to combat it.”
The study urges governments to abandon public policies that stress assimilation and adopt those which actively promote diversity and an acceptance of ethnic cultures.
“Countries can help their new immigrants adapt by actively supporting diversity in health care, broadcasting, education – in all facets of society,” says Dr. Berry who notes that Canada is a world leader in promoting diversity.
Participants came from the three kinds of countries that receive immigrants: settler countries (Australia, Canada, Israel, New Zealand, and the U.S.), formerly colonizing countries (France, Germany, Netherlands and the U.K.), and countries that have more recently been receiving immigrants (Norway, Sweden, Finland and Portugal).
Sarah Withrow 613.533.3280, firstname.lastname@example.org or Lorinda Peterson 613-533-3234, email@example.com, Queen’s News & Media Services
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