Institute for Positive Psychology & Education

Australian Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Youth in Friendship Networks: Perceived Stigma, Social Support, and Embeddedness in School Friendship Networks — Dr Baljinder Sahdra, IPPE

19 July 2017 − 12.30-1.30pm − Conference Room A, Edmund Rice Building, Strathfield Campus

This talk will present results from a study examining the extent to which Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth felt stigmatized, and were integrated into and felt supported at school. Australian high school students (N=862; 46% females; age M=14.13, SD=3.37; Indigenous: 104, Caucasians: 149, Other: 67) from three low SES schools were asked to nominate their closest friends and complete measures of mental ill-health, wellbeing, social support, and felt stigma. Indigenous students, compared to Caucasian students, reported higher wellbeing and lower mental ill-health despite scoring higher on perceived stigma. Felt stigma could not be attributed to felt social support because Indigenous and Caucasian students did not differ in terms of self-reported social support from parents, teachers, friends and classmates. However, Indigenous students received fewer friendship nominations from their peers and tended to be least socially embedded in the school friendship network. Exclusion by peers was positively related to stigma among Indigenous and other youth but unrelated to stigma among Caucasians. Among the socially excluded students, Indigenous and other minority students were more likely than Caucasians to feel stigmatized. All socially included students reported low levels of stigma, regardless of their ethnicity. The results suggest that interventions boosting peer support may prove beneficial in reducing felt stigma, especially among Indigenous and other minority students.