Children aware of racism by age nine, study finds

Greetings!  I’m Nico Trimoff, manager of transcription and accessibility services at
Today, I have some very interesting reading for you to look at.  Something that focuses on the aware ness of our kids by age 9.
I invite you now to read on.
Have a great day.
Children aware of racism by age nine, study finds

Shannon Proudfoot
Ottawa Citizen , Nov. 14, 2009
By their ninth birthday, most children are aware of racism and know the
stereotypes other people hold about certain groups, according to a new study
that belies the idea of innocent, colour-blind childhood.
“Around the second or third grade, you see a majority of kids understanding
that people have stereotypes,” says Clark McKown, associate executive
director of the Rush NeuroBehavioral Center at Rush University in Chicago.
“I think that would be surprising to many people, that by second or third
grade a lot of kids get it, they get that there’s racism in the world and
they understand what it is.”
The study wasn’t examining children’s own prejudices, but rather their
“stereotype-consciousness” or awareness of other people’s views.
The researchers told 124 children ages five to 11 a story about a place
called Kidland where Green and Blue people live and Greens think Blues
aren’t very smart. The children were asked who they thought a Green child
would pick to be their study buddy or spelling team member and why, then
asked how Kidland is like the real world, and their answers were examined to
determine their awareness of prejudice.
The older the children were, the more likely they were to understand
stereotypes, the researchers found. And by Grade 5, almost all of them
understood racism and could explain how the bias against Blues in Kidland
related to the real world.
“Kids are very savvy, they are wired to understand the social world,” says
McKown. “In fact, one of their main jobs when they’re growing up is to
understand what the social world is made of, their friendships, their
relationships with teachers, their understanding of who belongs to what
group. We are equipped from infancy to gather the data we need to get that
stuff, and kids understand a lot more than we give them credit for.”
What’s more, the researchers found that once children understand racism, it
affects their achievement. When black and Latino children were given a
memory task and told it would measure their abilities, they did more poorly
on it than others who were told it was simply a problem-solving exercise,
which McKown says is the result of fear that they would live down to
stereotypes about the lesser academic abilities of their race.
Although the demographic makeup of the two countries differs, McKown said
the results would apply equally to Canadian children or those absorbing the
cultural views of any country. Ayman Al-Yassini, executive director of
Canadian Race Relations Foundation, says the findings mirror those of other
studies in which students were divided up by arbitrary criteria, such as
their height or eye colour, and then treated differently.
Those experiments showed that discrimination is not an intrinsic value but a
learned behaviour, Al-Yassini says, and the only way to combat it is to talk
about it.
“We need to understand where we’re coming from as individuals, we need to
understand our emotions and to realize our values as individuals and as a
society,” he says.
“The only way of doing it is not by glossing it over but by talking about
it, talking about the impact of discrimination on us as individuals, on us
as a community and, more importantly, on the individual who is being
targeted as the subject of discrimination.”

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About Donna Jodhan

Donna Jodhan is an award winning blind author, advocate, sight loss coach, blogger, podcast commentator, and accessibility specialist.
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