The COVID-19 pandemic is fueling xenophobia against Chinese Americans, with parents and youths reporting racial discrimination and damage to their mental health, according to a new study from University of Maryland, College Park and University of Maryland, Baltimore County researchers.
This study, the first to examine online and in-person instances of perceived racial discrimination due to the novel coronavirus, was published online this month in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Charissa S.L. Cheah, professor of psychology at UMBC, and Cixin Wang, associate professor of school psychology in the College of Education at UMD, surveyed more than 500 Chinese Americans nationwide from March through May. Nearly half said they had been directly targeted by COVID-related discrimination, and one in four reported seeing or hearing it almost daily. In addition, 76.8% of parents and 76.5% of youth reported witnessing COVID-19 racial discrimination online and/or in person.
Those who perceived higher levels of discrimination were more likely to suffer poorer mental health, such as anxiety and depression.
As of Aug. 5, 2,583 reports of discrimination targeting Asian Americans have been made since March 19. That was shortly after the virus, first identified in Wuhan, China, arrived in the United States.
The researchers, whose work was funded by a Rapid Response Research grant from the National Science Foundation, urged pediatricians to be sensitive during the pandemic to the potential mental health needs of Chinese American youth and their parents related to racism.