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Awareness of racism affects how children do socially and academically

Date:
November 14, 2009
Source:
Society for Research in Child Development
Summary:
A study of more than 120 ethnically and socioeconomically diverse US elementary school children shows that children develop an awareness about racial stereotypes early and that those biases can be damaging. Specifically, the study illustrates that when children become aware of bias about their own racial or ethnic group, it can affect how they respond to everyday situations, ranging from interacting with others to taking tests.

Most children actively notice and think about race. A new study has found that children develop an awareness about racial stereotypes early, and that those biases can be damaging.

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The study, by researchers at Rush University and Yale University, appears in the November/December 2009 issue of the journal Child Development.

This study looked at more than 120 elementary school children from an ethnically and socioeconomically diverse area of the United States. Children were asked questions to determine their ability to understand another person's stereotypical beliefs as well as their own comprehension of broadly held stereotypes. They were also asked about their own experiences with discrimination. In addition, the children's parents completed questionnaires asking about their parenting.

Between ages 5 and 11, the researchers found, children become aware that many people believe stereotypes, including stereotypes about academic ability (for example, how intelligent certain racial and ethnic groups are). When children become aware of these types of bias about their own racial or ethnic group, it can affect how they respond to everyday situations, ranging from interacting with others to taking tests. For example, African American and Latino youths who were aware of broadly held stereotypes about their groups performed poorly on a standardized test, confirming the negative stereotype in a self-fulfilling prophecy.

"These results have important implications for social policy," according to Clark McKown, assistant professor of pediatrics and behavioral sciences at Rush University Medical Center, who led the study. "Specifically, they suggest the need for educational policies and comprehensive programs to reduce stereotypes and their consequences early in children's school careers."

The study was funded by the William T. Grant Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society for Research in Child Development. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. McKown et al. Developmental Antecedents and Social and Academic Consequences of Stereotype-Consciousness in Middle Childhood. Child Development, 2009; 80 (6): 1643 DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2009.01359.x

Cite This Page:

Society for Research in Child Development. "Awareness of racism affects how children do socially and academically." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 November 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091113083301.htm>.
Society for Research in Child Development. (2009, November 14). Awareness of racism affects how children do socially and academically. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091113083301.htm
Society for Research in Child Development. "Awareness of racism affects how children do socially and academically." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091113083301.htm (accessed February 28, 2015).

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