A Critical Review of Health Inequalities in Children Free Essay


In order to address population health inequalities, it is crucial to identify childhood risk aspects. A great comprehension of possibly malleable childhood risk aspects is vital and includes patterns of the various forms of stress such as racial discrimination that children undergo. This is especially necessary for children coming from races/ethnic groups that are stigmatized, and experience high exposure to various childhood stressors and significant health inequalities worldwide. Racial discrimination is a prevalent childhood stressor that has dire consequences such as high cases of mental illness, sleep complications, inflammations, anxieties, depression, self-injury, obesity, and distress for its young victims (Cave, 2018). This paper is a critical review of Shepherd et al (2017) article on the impacts of racial-based discrimination on the health/wellbeing of Australia’s Indigenous children between ages of 5 and 10

The topic of racism has been chosen for this essay owing to its significant impacts on the health of minorities globally and specifically amongst the Indigenous populace in Australia. Most recent research have centred their studies on the relation of racism and health/well-being of adults, but children are more vulnerable to the effects of racism. Only a few researchers have investigated the impacts of racial-based discriminations on the health/well-being of young children within a period of time, which has limited comprehension of the way experiences of racism alter health consequences in young children (Priest et al., 2011). Racial discrimination affects both the mental/emotive and the physical aspects of human health, which informs the choice of this topic for review.

Shepherd et al (2017) article titled “The impact of racial discrimination on the health of Australian Indigenous children aged 5-10 years” has been chosen for critical review in this paper. This is due to its utilization of validated tools that are requisite for assessment of the emotive impacts of racial discrimination, its vast nationwide dataset, and its application of numerous health indicators in the determination of the different impacts of racial discrimination on health. Essentially, continued racial discrimination portends detrimental health effects in persons, more so in young children (Shepherd et al., 2017).

Thus, reduction of exposure to racial discrimination ought to be the central goal of all interventions aimed at improving health to guarantee equality in races and impartiality in the public health segment. Studies have shown detriments of stressors as racial-based discrimination on the mental, emotional, and physical health of young children and this, therefore, resonates with Shepherd et al (2017) article on the impacts of racial-based discriminations on the health/well-being of young Australian Indigenous children (Shepherd et al, 2017). Racial discrimination is noted to undermine the health and well-being of Australian Indigenous persons and thus there is a need to prioritize it in order to redress the health inequalities.


Shepherd et al (2017) article is a research journal that aims at providing insightful additional comprehension on the impacts of early experiences of racial-based discriminations on the health/well-being of children and uses longitudinal data amongst young Indigenous Australian children and several indicators of racism. The use of longitudinal data is a new perspective as opposed to previous researches which used cross-sectional data. The researchers used existing data on 1239 Indigenous children between the ages of 5 and 10 present in one to six waves of a longitudinal survey of Indigenous children in the Australian population. They investigated the links amongst 3 dimensions of racism reported by child caregivers; which aided to measure the direct exposures of young children as well as the indirect involvements by their primary caregivers and familial settings as well as a series of physical and psychological health results (Shepherd et al., 2017). They undertook their analysis by use of multivariate logistical regression in a multi-level structure.

The results of Shepherd et al (2017) indicated that forty percent of primary caregivers, forty-five percent of familial settings, and fourteen percent of Indigenous children between the ages of 5 and 10 reportedly underwent racial-based discriminations at a given point in their lives. About 28 to 40 percent of them suffered racial discrimination persistently. Primary caregiver of the children and the racism experiences of those children were both linked to an underprivileged/poor mental status of the children. Such statuses included increased risks of clinically substantial emotive and mannerism downsides sleep complications, obese-related problems, and asthma but were less lined to common health or harms amongst the children. A child who had persistently experienced indirect discrimination was more likely to be affected by sleep complications and asthma in multivariate models as opposed to a child exposed in a limited time (Shepherd et al., 2017).

The article brought up numerous themes as racial discrimination, health inequalities and policy, and intervention. The authors asserted from their findings that direct and continuous indirect racial-based discriminations and experiences are damaging to the physical and psychological well-being of young Australian Indigenous children. They surmised that continued and frequently occurring exposures to racial discrimination that commences in the initial life-course of an individual potentially impacts on various dimensions later in the life of an individual. They recommended that dealing with and reducing racial discriminations ought to be a central factor in policy-making and interventions seeking to improve the health/well-being of the Australian Indigenous youngsters and thus reduction of health/welfare discrepancies between young Aboriginals and others (Shepherd et al., 2017).


The authors of this article have joined existing researchers’ argument that racial discrimination has injurious and adverse effects on the mental and physical well-being of children. I strongly agree with the article’s objective use of nationwide longitudinal data on indigenous children since to understand such a phenomenon which has far-reaching health consequences to human beings, a large dataset is needed. Such a vast dataset has aided the authors of this article to evidentially provide insightful analysis of the correlation of continued racial discrimination and health/well-being of young children. The use of child-carer reported racism cases capturing direct child experiences and indirect exposures as those accorded to children by caregivers and families is a vital step that the authors have undertaken such that all the factors center to the life of a child are examined (Cave, 2018).

The other main strengths that make this article objective include its use of validated and reliable tools like surveys to assess social and emotive well-being, utilization of rigorous analytic techniques such as logistic regression and multilevel approaches of covariate and multivariate analysis. The article uses a huge set of indicators used for measuring different factors of racial-based discriminations and health/well-being amongst the Australian populace such as guages of racial discriminations at various periods of life. It undergoes many surveys of the participants thereby reducing the probability of recall biases. The 2 models that the article report presents 2 perspectives on the impacts of racial discrimination that aid in giving an increased comprehension of racism’s acknowledgment as a health risk aspect (Paradies, 2008).

The article is well structured within the domain of racial-based discriminationz on children’s physical and mental health as the authors have gone a step further against the existing researches (Ferdinand et al., n.d.). The article has sought to build a comprehension of the prevalence of racism and its social demographic risk factors linked to exposures to racial discriminations which is vital for the generation of significant insights in racial disparity in health. The article’s perspective centered on children is adept and useful since there is a strong relationship between racism and negative health impacts in young children than in any other age groups. Further, owing to the reported substantial link between caregiver and familial reported cases of racism and detrimental emotive and physical well-being of children, the decision of the authors to use carers and familial reports in the examination of vicarious experiences is a good step in the realization of the goal of the article.

The use of longitudinal data can be seen as a sinew for this article since it keeps the article focused and valid in the determination of variable patterns of racial discriminations over time. In addition, longitudinal data as posited by the authors are more useful than the cross-sectional data that previous researches in this field used. However, the authors have failed to address the fact that longitudinal data may give unreliable data especially given that a group of participants are surveyed over a long time and may change their view (Paradies, 2008).

The authors have not only provided a rationale for their methods of logical regression and multivariate models but also cited probable issues with their methods (Shepherd et al., 2017). The limitations that the authors give in the article may be accurate given the dynamic, controversial, and equivocality of the social perceptions of racial discrimination which may affect the response of the participants. The results that the authors give are in line with their analysis and conclusions. This article has aided my knowledge on the topic by bringing about the vicarious experiences and exposures that the family and caregivers report on the issues of racial discriminations. The only perspectives that are missing from this article are the recognition that racism takes three forms; intra and interpersonal, internalized and systematic forms (Priest et al., 2011). Considerations of these perspectives may totally alter the analysis of the participants’ responses.


This article can be particularly helpful in the application of how we can help other people since with awareness of what social discrimination of other races, one will be inclined to desist from the practice (Cave, 2018). This type of article matters in terms of policy and planning as seeking redress to racial inequalities can now be set as a national priority that aims at coming up with community interventions for combating the health ills caused by racial discrimination. My personal reflection on this topic as a whole is that it goes a long way in exploring causal relationships between racial experiences and exposures and a series of health and well-being results for Indigenous Australian children as it identifies its direct and vicarious exposure impacts. This can be a base upon which the development of an apt and effective intervention and government policies seeking to improve the health of Indigenous groups in Australia can be built. This paper has challenged my comprehension of the whole topic since all the authors’ assertions are largely supported by evidence.