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Mental Health Risk Factors Associated with Childhood Language Brokering
Abstract and Figures
Serving as a language translator (broker) for family members during childhood can affect cognitive and emotional function in both beneficial and detrimental ways. Child language brokers translate in a variety of contexts including conversations between their parents and financial, legal, and medical professionals. Pressure to be involved in these activities may negatively affect mental health by placing undue stress on child language brokers, while also distracting from other responsibilities such as school. In this study, the relationship between language brokering during childhood and adolescence and the mental health of bilingual young adults was examined. Overall, language brokers had higher levels of depression. Young adults who previously served as language brokers, particularly during their preadolescent years, had higher levels of anxiety than their bilingual non-brokering counterparts. It is important for parents, educators, and mental health professionals to become more aware of the mental health consequences that may arise from language brokering duties, particularly how symptoms vary depending on whether brokering began in childhood or adolescence.
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