Stop and frisk linked with trauma and stress, sociology study finds

October 21, 2014 by Emily Wood
Stop and frisk linked with trauma and stress, sociology study finds
Young men stopped and questioned in New York City by police are reporting higher levels of trauma and stress associated with those experiences, particularly when they report that the encounters were intrusive, according to a study led by Amanda Geller, an NYU sociologist. Credit: iStock/Antonprado.

Young men stopped and questioned in New York City by police are reporting higher levels of trauma and stress associated with those experiences, particularly when they report that the encounters were intrusive, according to a study led by Amanda Geller, an NYU sociologist.

The research, which appears in the American Journal of Public Health, constitutes one of the first studies of the mental health impacts of "stop and frisk" and similar police tactics on —the population most affected by these policing policies.

"Our findings suggest that pro-active policing tactics have the potential to negatively affect the relationship between the community and police, as well as the mental health and well-being of community members," says Geller, the director of NYU's Master's Program in Applied Quantitative Research and a clinical associate professor of sociology.

According to the study, men who experienced the most intrusive encounters—those interactions that were aggressive, deemed unfair, or which involved racially charged language—also experienced the most significant symptoms. However, men who had experienced only minimal interactions with the police also reported feelings of stress, , and anxiety. Also notable was the disparity across race, with black respondents experiencing more frequently than other races.

"Most of the police encounters our respondents described didn't include an arrest or incarceration, yet they still reported associated symptoms," Geller explains. "This tells us that even the low levels of interaction that many urban residents experience may have consequences."

In the study, participants responded to surveys about the nature of their interaction with police and were asked to report any symptoms of anxiety and trauma they experienced due to the encounter.

The correlation between anxiety and trauma reported by subjects in the study and the interaction they experienced are consistent with research that suggests that any social benefit achieved through proactive policing, such as improved public safety and feelings of security, may be offset by costs to individual and community health.

The study compared self-reported trauma and anxiety levels among male New York City participants, aged 18- to 26 years. Participants included 1,261 young men representing 37 neighborhoods across the city from September 2012 to March 2013. Of the 1,261 respondents, 85 percent had been stopped at least once in their lifetime, and 46 percent had been stopped in the past year.

Explore further: Report advocates improved police training

More information: "Aggressive Policing and the Mental Health of Young Urban Men." American Journal of Public Health. e-View Ahead of Print. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.302046

Related Stories

Report advocates improved police training

August 29, 2014
A new report released yesterday by the Mental Health Commission of Canada identifies ways to improve the mental health training and education that police personnel receive.

Prejudice linked to depression, anxiety in gay and bisexual black men

August 31, 2011
The harassment, discrimination and negative feelings about homosexuality that black gay and bisexual men often experience can contribute significantly to mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety, a small new ...

Police activities in Thailand may lead to riskier behaviors in people who inject drugs

December 10, 2013
Recent increasing police activities focused on people who inject drugs in Thailand have involved reported injustices that may lead to riskier behaviors in people who inject drugs (PWID), according to a study published this ...

Largest study of Hispanics/Latinos finds depression and anxiety rates vary widely among groups

October 21, 2014
Rates of depression and anxiety vary widely among different segments of the U.S. Hispanic and Latino population, with the highest prevalence of depressive symptoms in Puerto Ricans, according to a new report from Albert Einstein ...

Elderly who have had serious falls may show symptoms of post-traumatic stress

September 12, 2014
Older adults who experience a serious fall may develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the days following the event. A study published in the journal General Hospital Psychiatry found symptoms associated ...

Persons displaced by war at increased risk of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety

August 2, 2011
Residents of Sri Lanka who were internally displaced during the civil conflict that occurred in their country from 1983 to 2009 have a higher prevalence of war-related mental health conditions that include depression, anxiety ...

Recommended for you

Self-harm, suicide attempts climb among US girls, study says

November 21, 2017
Attempted suicides, drug overdoses, cutting and other types of self-injury have increased substantially in U.S. girls, a 15-year study of emergency room visits found.

Car, stroller, juice: Babies understand when words are related

November 20, 2017
The meaning behind infants' screeches, squeals and wails may frustrate and confound sleep-deprived new parents. But at an age when babies cannot yet speak to us in words, they are already avid students of language.

Simple EKG can determine whether patient has depression or bipolar disorder

November 20, 2017
A groundbreaking Loyola Medicine study suggests that a simple 15-minute electrocardiogram could help a physician determine whether a patient has major depression or bipolar disorder.

Non-fearful social withdrawal linked positively to creativity

November 20, 2017
Everyone needs an occasional break from the social ramble, though spending too much time alone can be unhealthy and there is growing evidence that the psychosocial effects of too much solitude can last a lifetime.

Cultural values can be a strong predictor of alcohol consumption

November 20, 2017
Countries with populations that value autonomy and harmony tend to have higher average levels of alcohol consumption than countries with more traditional values, such as hierarchy and being part of a collective. This new ...

A walk at the mall or the park? New study shows, for moms and daughters, a walk in the park is best

November 17, 2017
Spending time together with family may help strengthen the family bond, but new research from the University of Illinois shows that specifically spending time outside in nature—even just a 20-minute walk—together can ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Scottingham
not rated yet Oct 21, 2014
"pro-active policing tactics "

How's that for some unconstitutional bullshit.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.