This essay provides a commentary on the perceptions of racial differences among children. The argument follows a reflective review of two reports. It will prove that in children, the race factor plays an important function during friendship selection and behavior interpretation.
I am not surprised by the results from the reports. This is because children have a tendency of making their friendship selections based on their view of the aggregate society. For instance, they are aware of the fact that adults have fewer interracial than intra-racial relations. Therefore, the children have not only internalized their cultural views of race, but also developed clear ideas on how adults perceive racial differences.
The first report, “Children’s Attitudes towards Skin Color,” analyses children association of positive and negative characters with skin tone. The author compares this to the famous 40s doll experiment, in which researchers asked children to select dolls based on color preference. According to the report, the original study revealed that children, despite racial background, viewed light-skinned images more positively than their darker counterparts. This implies that children tend to associate light skin tones with positive attributes such as desirability, smartness, and prettiness (Sharp, Children's Attitudes Towards Skin Color, 2010).
The second report, “Children’s Perception of Race and Friendship,” studies the role of the racial factor when choosing friends among children. The researchers note that a majority of children confessed to being fully aware of the racial factor. The study, therefore, determines that children find it hard and undesirable to make interracial friends. As the report further shows, race plays an important function in behavior interpretation. Indeed, it is not surprising when we see light-skin children associating negative behavior with their dark-skin age mates (Sharp, Children's Perceptions of Race and Friendship, 2012).
There are also other credible reports from media houses and researchers that support these findings. For instance, the LA Sentinel reports that Dr. Margaret Spencer (2010) conducted a study that explored children’s view of race. Her findings agree with the suggestion that children as young as 5 years old possess racial bias (Manago, 2010). Secondly, in 2011, the UK’s daily telegraph reported that there existed over 20,000 cases of racist behavior among children under the age of 11 in schools. This implies that the UK local authorities deal with approximately a hundred racism cases among school going children per day (Paton, 2011). According to these findings, a significant number of light-skin children interviewed viewed their dark-skin peers as mean, ugly, dumb, and undesirable. However, a decreasing number of older light-skin children share similar sentiments.
The following are two major ways of reducing the existence of racial bias among children. First, social institutions such as churches, schools, neighborhoods and families should actively engage their children in multicultural education. During such events, children learn to celebrate rather than ignore racial diversity. Second, a majority of individuals view the black-white ideology as one that drives identity politics and racial polarization behavior in children. Therefore, the society should become engaged in passing on to their children a new language that unites rather than alienate individuals across racial fronts. Lastly, schools should have the power to deal with and report cases of racial bias to the relevant authorities. This will not only reduce future occurrences, but also foster interracial coexistence. Indeed, the above discussion proves that the race factor plays an important function during friendship selection and behavior interpretation among children.
Manago, C. (2010, May 27). Black or White: Kids on Race at CNN. Retrieved from The LA Sentinel Website: http://www.lasentinel.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4152:black-or-white-kids-on-race-at-cnn&catid=92&Itemid=182#sthash.u0dIyBlN.dpuf
Paton, G. (2011, September 14). Children as Young as Four Reprimanded for Racist Behavior. Retrieved from The Daily Telegraph Web site: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/8760676/Children-as-young-as-four-reprimanded-for-racist-behaviour.html
Sharp, G. (2010, May 15). Children's Attitudes Towards Skin Color. Retrieved from The Society Pages Website: http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2010/05/15/childrens-attitudes-toward-skin-color/
Sharp, G. (2012, April 4). Children's Perceptions of Race and Friendship. Retrieved from The Society Pages Website: http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2012/04/04/childrens-perceptions-of-race-friendship/