Racial stereotyping starts early for Black kids.
Young children and youth of color in the U.S. are the victims of racial stereotyping from adults who work with them on various levels, according to a new research study.
The study was called “Stereotyping across intersections of race and age: Racial stereotyping among White adults working with children.” It was conducted by the University of Michigan, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and the Australian National University.
Young Black children up to 8 years old were almost three times more likely to be rated as being lazy than white children. Young black children were more than twice as likely to be rated as unintelligent or violence-prone than white children of the same age, according to PLOS One journal, which published the study.
This study analyzed for the first time stereotypes held by white adults who work or volunteer with children across the U.S., the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health reported. It examined the reported attitudes toward adults, teenagers and children from a range of racial and ethnic backgrounds. This includes attitudes toward Black and Hispanic/Latinx groups, but also toward those from Native American, Asian and Arab backgrounds.
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The highest levels of negative racial stereotyping were found toward Blacks across all stereotypes measured (lazy, unintelligent, violent and having unhealthy habits), according to the study’s lead author, Naomi Priest, associate professor of the ANU Centre for Social Research & Methods. Native American and Hispanic/Latinx were seen as similarly negative on several stereotypes.
Although Black children were seen less negatively than Black adults, they were viewed more negatively than children from other racial groups except for Native American and Hispanic/Latinx.
Participants included 1,022 white adults who volunteer and/or work with children in the U.S.
“Results indicate high proportions of adults who work or volunteer with children endorsed negative stereotypes towards Blacks and other ethnic minorities. Respondents were most likely to endorse negative stereotypes towards Blacks, and least likely towards Asians (relative to Whites). Moreover, endorsement of negative stereotypes by race was moderated by target age. Stereotypes were often lower towards young children but higher towards teens,” PLOS One reported.
Priest said, “These findings are highly concerning given the strong scientific evidence that negative racial attitudes are associated with poorer quality care and services and with disparities in health, education and social outcomes. That these negative attitudes have been found toward even young children aged 0-8 among adults who work or volunteer with them has serious potential consequences for these children’s outcomes throughout life. Countering these negative stereotypes among adults who work with children, and protecting children from minority backgrounds from the potential impact of these attitudes, is an important strategy to address racial disparities.”
Co-author David Williams warned: “This study is a wake-up call for every professional group who works with children in the U.S.—doctors, teachers, police, child care workers, and others. It suggests that many professionals, with good intentions, may be treating America’s most valuable possession, our little children, badly without even being aware of it.”