Background: Religious-based hate crimes are on the rise worldwide. However, the relationship of religious discrimination on health and well-being, especially earlier on the lifecourse, is largely understudied. This study examines the prevalence of religious discrimination and the relationship it has on social-emotional adjustment and sleep outcomes among a diverse sample of students in Australia.
Methods: Data came from Speak Out Against Racism, a population-representative cross-sectional study of 4664 public school students in grades 5–9 in Australia in 2017. An adaption of the Adolescent Discrimination Distress Index (ADDI), was used to derive four measures of religious discrimination (peer, school, societal and the sum of those as a “total” score). The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire measured the total difficulties, conduct, emotional, and prosocial behavior subscales. Measures of sleep outcomes included duration, latency, and disruption.
Results: 27 % (95 % CI 22.82, 31.12) of students reported experiences of direct total religious discrimination with higher levels being reported by students identifying as a religious minority. There was strong evidence that experiences of religious discrimination (across all four sources) was related to all measures of socioemotional adjustment and sleep outcomes.
Discussion: Religious discrimination is an understudied form of social disadvantage that has implications for adolescents’ development, health and well-being. Conclusion: More programs, particularly in the school-context, address religious-based discrimination may reduce inequities in health.