College students of color have reported an increased fear of crime and violence, which has been linked to negative long-term physical and mental health outcomes. Research was presented at the American Public Health Association 2018 Annual Meeting and Expo, held November 10-14 in San Diego, California.1,2

Erin Grinshteyn, PhD, of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), conducted a cross-sectional analysis of 1415 students at UCSF. Through an online survey platform, students were asked to rate their fear of experiencing 11 crimes — including physical assault, vandalism, hate crimes, microagressions, and hate speech — on a scale of 0 (no fear) to 10 (maximum fear).

Median scores for all crimes were higher or worse in students of color compared with white students. While both groups listed the highest scores for fear of crime in general, these scores were higher in students of color (median, 30 vs 20; P <.0001, respectively), as well as fear of bullying both on and off campus (P =.011 and <.0001, respectively). Students of color also reported feeling worried about friends or family being detained or deported, as well as fear of being detained or deported themselves (P <.0001 for all).

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“Overwhelmingly, college students of color experience more fear of violence in general compared with white students,” said Dr Grinshteyn in a press release. “We know that fear is a risk factor for worse mental health, and it’s important for us to understand who is most at risk if we are to prevent mental health issues.”

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Dr Grinshteyn added that her team is looking to conduct 2 additional studies. One would collect nationally representative data to create “larger and more representative sample sizes,” and the second would aim to test the efficacy of an intervention aimed at helping students cope with their “fear of victimization.”

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  1. Grinshteyn E, Valencia-Garcia D, Couture M-C. White privilege: comparing fear of crime, bullying, detainment, and deportation between university students of color and white university students. Presented at: American Public Health Association 2018 Annual Meeting and Expo; November 10-14, 2018; San Diego, CA. Abstract 3179.0
  2. College students of color report greater fear of crime, violence [news release]. San Diego, CA: American Public Health Association. Published November 12, 2018. Accessed November 13, 2018.