Sue Scheff: Racism and your Teens

Today we live in a melting pot.  Our children are exposed to many diversities of life through a wide variety of cultures and languages.  Generations earlier the divide seemed to be clearer.  There were the “white” neighborhoods and the “black” neighborhoods.

Unfortunately there is still some racism that exists with some people.  Whether it is your grandparents or parents, adults from prior generations have a harder time accepting all walks of life.  Children today are more likely not to see color, race, religion. 

Connect with Kids recently published an article, Pre-Empting Racism which shared how teens today are learning more from other students with different backgrounds starting in their earlier years.

Tips for Parents

At what age do children begin to notice and understand race? Psychologist Stephen Quintana, Ph.D., has developed and evaluated a model of children’s understanding of ethnicity, race, gender, social status, nationality and social class. Quintana’s research, through interviews conducted with hundreds of children of various ethnic backgrounds, led to a model described in Monitor on Psychology, a journal of the American Psychological Association. The model divides children’s developmental understanding of race and ethnicity into four levels:

  • Physical: Ages 3 to 6. Children in this age group view race purely in physical terms and may think racial characteristics can be changed by surgery, that skin color could be the result of staying in the sun too long.
  • Literal: Ages 6 to 10. Children understand that ethnic background is a function of ancestry that influences not only how people look, but also the food they eat, the language they speak, and the activities they enjoy. It is a very literal understanding of ethnicity.
  • Social: Ages 10 to 14. Children realize that ethnicity can be linked to social class. Often, among children in this age group, interracial and inter-ethnic friendships that began in elementary school come to an end, as social groups become more racially segregated.
  • Group: Adolescence. Many teenagers express pride in their heritage and a sense of belonging to a group. Their view of ethnicity and race matures.

Source: Connect with Kids

Be an example for your children, we can learn from all walks of life. 

Read more on Examiner and watch the video.