And Vela-Gude's article offers several of the main points of this paper's research; the services must be ready, and the counselors must be thoroughly informed and knowledgeable about the cultural implications as well as the academic realities facing those Latino students (2009).
Racism Against Latinos
This paper alludes to the high number of Latinos in California and Texas, but according to the Southern Poverty Law Center's research, the South is home to one of the "fastest growing populations of Latinos in the country" (Bauer, et al., 2009, p. 4). But though the typical Latino immigrant comes to the South to escape "crushing poverty in their home countries" they often encounter "…widespread hostility, discrimination and exploitation" (Bauer, 2009, p. 4).
What kinds of discrimination do Latinos come up against in the South? Mary Bauer and her chief researcher, Sarah Reynolds, claim that Latinos are "…routinely cheated out of their earnings and denied basic health and safety protection" (p. 4). On a regular basis, they are the victims of "racial profiling and harassment by law enforcement" and are "victimized by criminals who know they are reluctant to report attacks" (Bauer, 2009, p. 4).
What makes the situation worse for Latino immigrants in the South, according to Bauer, is that state and local governments in the South "…have exacerbated the situation" by passing laws and ordinances "designed to limit services to undocumented immigrants" in order to "make their lives as difficult as possible, with the ultimate goal of driving them away" (p. 4).
In the past few years about 1.6 Latinos have immigrated to Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, Bauer explains. They provide cheap labor; they help build skyscrapers in Charlotte, harvest onions in Georgia, they slaughter poultry in Alabama and also help rebuild New Orleans following Katrina. Many of course did enter the U.S. illegally, though others came under the "guestworker" program that is sponsored by employers (Bauer, 2009, p. 5).
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) surveyed 500 "low-income" Latinos at five different locations in the South. The research by the SPLC found many of those 500 participants "…under siege and living in fear -- fear of the police, fear of the government and fear of criminals who prey on immigrants" due to their vulnerable situations. The survey revealed some startling facts, among those the fact that 41% of the 500 individuals "had experienced wage theft where they were not paid for work performed" (Bauer, 2009, p. 6). Among those immigrants who were surveyed in New Orleans, a stunning 80% reported they had not been paid for work performed, Bauer pointed out. "When we weren't paid, we didn't even have money for food," said Sergio de Leon, whose job it was to clean toxic mud and mold from St. Bernard Parish schools in New Orleans. The SPLC sued the company that hired de Leon (LVI environmental Services of New Orleans) and a settlement was reached, Bauer wrote (p. 7).
Another 80% of respondents did not know there were government agencies (like the Department of Labor) that will investigate fraud on the part of employers. Thirty-two percent of the Latinos surveyed being injured on the job; of those injured, just 37% reported that they had been treated medically for their injuries (Bauer, 2009, p. 6).
Internalized Racism and Latinos
A research paper published in the Texas Hispanic Journal of Law (Padilla, 2001) references the fact that terrible racists acts have been part of the dark history for Latinos in the U.S. And that those acts are internalized and passed down from generation to generation. After the Mexican-American War ended in 1848, Padilla explains, folks of Mexican origin face "lynchings, land theft, and virulent racism… [and others] were deported en masse…" (p. 3). The racism by Caucasians against Latinos unfortunately also caused many Latinos to believe "…that whiter is better…the desirability of whiteness represents the internalization by the colonized of the colonizers' predilections" (Padilla, 2001, p. 3).
Journal of School Health -- Carolyn Garcia, et al., 2008
Meanwhile, compelling and salient reasons for focusing on this aspect of the Latino community include: a) Latino youth experience "disproportionate rates of mental health problems" (Garcia, et al., 2008, p. 487) including depression and suicide; b) the fact that Latino youth account for almost 30% of the total Latino population in the U.S.; and...
487) that 1 in 5 Latino high school students had suicidal thoughts in 2009; of those, ninth grade girls are said to be most prone to consider taking their own lives. According to Garcia's data, between 30% and 40% of Latino girls in 9th grade "reported suicidal thoughts" and between 14% and 19% of those same females actually "attempted suicide" in 2008 (Garcia, 2008, p. 487). More than that, Latino youth "experience disproportionate rates of health problems including mental health problems" -- and these barriers to optimal mental and physical health are due to "economic, social, and political realities in their lives" (Garcia, 2008, p. 487
Due to these above-mentioned concerns it behooves counselors, teachers, parents, healthcare providers and other adults who are community leaders to be aware of these issues within the Latino youth community. How can a Latino boy get to and through college if he is laden with This is not to say that counselors should always be psychologists or social scientists, nor should a counselor try to go into other fields just to help youth. but, as this paper will point out, counselors are obligated to be acutely aware of problems that their students face, and counselors should be alert to clues that youths offer without knowing they are offering them -- clues to their stress levels, their outside pressures, their mental and physical health -- so that the information can be passed on to the appropriate professionals.
According to Garcia (2008, p. 295), the counselor can help "build family protective factors and promote mental health among Latino youth" by making it possible for interventions that provide "direct support to both students and parents." And if parents are not available, the counselor can still intervene with the Latino student and in the process "promote youth connectedness with extended family members, recognizing the protective roles that strong relationships with extended family members can offer" (Garcia, 2008, p. 295). Indeed, for those Latino youth who report that they have limited amounts of "communication, caring, or connectedness with parents," school counselors and other school professionals "might offer structured mentoring programming" to give those Latino students the support they need, to help them remain accountable to themselves for their future, Garcia (2008) continues on page 295.
"Consistent with Latino cultural values, it is vital that schools offer support and education for parents" who can be available and who are willing to work with their children, Garcia explains (2008, p. 296). If it takes creative "and concerted efforts" to engage those Latino parents -- "historically a hard-to-reach population" -- then that kind of outreach by the counselor is exactly what is needed (Garcia, 2008, p. 296). Interestingly, Garcia (2008, p. 296) mentions that the odds of a Latino youth committing suicide is "10 times greater" for those students who are "unable to speak with parents about their problems compared to students who affirm they are able to communicate with a parent much of the time."
Embracing the Positive through Counseling Psychology
Certainly there are serious concerns about the myriad stressors that Latino youth go through, writes Nick Anthony Barneclo in his 180-page dissertation for a Doctor of Philosophy (New Mexico State University). For example, 70% of Latinos in one survey were prevented from seeking healthcare services due to language problems, and the Surgeon General's Report reflects the fact that "Mexican-Americans are at high risk for mental health problems as a result of socioeconomic and health barriers" (Barneclo, 2008, p. 3). Moreover, the author asserts that Latino-student-to-teacher radios are the worst of any minority group (64:1).
The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) presents further data on the subject of Latino instructors vs. Latino students: Of full-time instructional faculty in universities and colleges in 2005, "…4.3% were Hispanic," the HACU writes, while "10.9% of all students in higher education in the U.S." are of Latino heritage (www.hacu.net). Gathering their data from the U.S. Census, the HACU explains that as of 2004, 4.2% of "all public school teachers at the elementary -- and secondary-school level were Hispanic." Contrast that fact with the fact that 18.6% of public school students in 2005 were in fact of Latino ancestry.
The HACU does put forward the fact that 4.6% of all college presidents in 2006 were Latino -- up from 2.2% in 1986 (www.hacu.net). And further, HACU explains that of all Latinos in the U.S. that are 25 years of age or older, "22.8% have less than a 9th grade education (vs. 2.9% for non-Latino Caucasians).
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