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Students feel safer in ethnically diverse schools, UCLA psychologists report

Middle school students are more likely to feel safer, less bullied and less lonely in ethnically diverse schools, psychologists from UCLA and UC Davis report in a new study of more than 70 sixth-grade classrooms in 11 Los Angeles public middle schools with predominantly minority and low-income students.

"Bullying happens in every school, and many students are concerned about their safety," said Jaana Juvonen, UCLA professor of psychology, chair of developmental psychology and lead author of the study. "However, our analysis shows students feel safer in ethnically diverse classrooms and schools."

Juvonen and her colleagues studied classrooms with lower and higher diversity among African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans and Caucasians. The researchers classified classrooms as diverse when multiple ethnic groups were represented in relatively similar proportions. The findings of the study held even when classroom differences in academic performance were taken into account.

The researchers were able to examine the effects of diversity on African American and Latino students -- the two ethnic groups that were represented across all the classrooms in this sample of public middle school youth in the Los Angels area. However, co-author Adrienne Nishina, an assistant professor of human development at UC Davis, said she expects that students from other ethnic backgrounds would experience similar benefits from ethnically diverse schools.

"Other research at the college level has found that students from all ethnic backgrounds may benefit from ethnically diverse environments," Nishina noted.

The researchers said the study has wider implications beyond the psychological benefits for students.

"We know that when students have positive social and psychological experiences at school, they do better academically," Nishina said.

Citing a recent Supreme Court decision on ethnic diversity on college campuses, another co auth
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Contact: Stuart Wolpert
swolpert@support.ucla.edu
310-206-0511
University of California - Los Angeles
11-May-2006


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