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Racism is a system of oppression that categorizes and stratifies people into “races” and creates adverse childhood experiences that undermine healthy development and the well-being of adolescents and families through differential treatment resulting in social disadvantage. Pervasive racism exists in societies around the globe, but it has been so distinctly codified into the American experience that it has been identified as a US public health emergency. Pediatric health professionals, parents and caregivers, and others who work with adolescents need to be sensitive to teenage development, including the critical role of racial socialization as a mediator for their experiences of racism and the need to foster positive identity development. Early intervention through screening before adolescence, conversations that recognize and acknowledge unique injustices faced during adolescence, and thoughtful scaffolding by parents and caregivers can help adolescents navigate and counter the adverse physical, emotional, and social effects of racism as they approach autonomy.

Keywords: adolescence, racism, development

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