Children and youths’ way of perceiving racism

by ArianShamal on November 13, 2016 - 8:28pm

Summary: In “Perceived Racism and Discrimination in Children and Youths: An Exploratory Study” (2010) by Bernstein, Garcia C., Pachter and Szalacha’s, the authors investigated the environment and the circumstances of ostensible racism and discrimination in children and youths. Although previous studies conducted by other researchers focused on the emotional and physical effects of racial prejudices in children, very little research has been conducted on the occurrence of racism in teenagers and children. For their study, the authors recruited children aged between eight to 18 years old from various locations. The participants were asked to fill out a demographic form and complete a 23-item questionnaire labeling particular situations in which they may have encountered discrimination. If their answer was assenting to a question, further questions were asked such as the frequency and the reason for the discrimination. Even though the authors’ main purpose was to inquire about racial discrimination, they felt that studying the nonracial forms of discrimination that children experienced was also significant. Among all the participants, 277 respondents completed the questionnaire. After gathering their data, Bernstein and al., started to analyze the sample characteristics by classifying the variables such as ethnicity, gender and age. Thirty-one percent of the respondents were African American, 29 percent were Latino, 19 percent identified themselves as multicultural/multiracial, 7 percent were West Indian/Caribbean, 4 percent as European American and 2 percent as other (Chinese or Southeast Asian). Eighty-eight percent of the respondents reported they had experienced racial discrimination in at least one of the 23 contexts. Participants answered positively an average of six questions and 11.6 percent answered more than half of the items affirmatively. The most frequently ostensible form of racial discrimination children encountered were racial comments and insults. Children and youths reported that they perceived racial discrimination mostly in public places such as at school, restaurants and shops. The authors affirmed that there were no major differences in the occurrence of perceived racial prejudices when the racial groups were analyzed separately neither in the gender. The results of the study show that racism and discrimination have a very significant impact on children’s lives. The authors’ findings also demonstrate that racial discrimination is a very common issue among children of color. It was also shown that racism cannot only happen between majority and minority groups but as well between two minority groups and two majority groups. Finally, there a high percentage of perceived racism among children’s peers, authority figures and adults.

Response: I think this study has a lot of benefits and force us to think for a few moments how hard it must be for young children to face racial discrimination at such young age. I like the fact that this study is mostly focused on children and youths’ real experiences of racism in different contexts and settings. I also appreciate the fact that the participants were from different ethnic backgrounds (minority and majority groups) rather than just from one specific minority group. I found it interesting that the authors also took into consideration not only racial discrimination but as well nonracial forms of discrimination as it has also a very huge impact on children. It has been proven that children tend to imitate very quickly adults’ actions. As discussed in my anthropology class called, we defined race as a social construct that we species created and shape. In this case, the way we are going to shape “racism”, our children will learn the same procedure and will apply it for themselves. For instance, if a kid notices that his parents don’t like people of color and tend to have not so pleasant behavior with them, the kid will do the same and eventually may develop racist thoughts about people from different ethnic backgrounds. I think the authors should have presented solutions on how to prevent the occurrence of racism in the most common and frequent contexts and research further with a larger sample size.

APA Reference:

Bernstein, B. A., Garcia C., C., Pachter, L. M. & Szalacha, L. A. (2010). Perceived Racism and Discrimination in Children and Youths: An Exploratory Study. Health & Social Work, 35(1), 61-70. Retrieved from Academic Search Elite database.

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