Black Children At Risk

three black children playing in the ocean

Children of color are at a high risk of being negatively impacted by implicit prejudices and biases. The way that people manifest their prejudiced beliefs can be dangerous to children’s ability to learn and be successful outside of the classroom. In a study done by Goff et al. (2014), children of color were much more likely to be perceived as older than they actually were. Young boys of color are then treated as older when going through the criminal justice system. This combined with the stereotype that black men are dangerous and aggressive makes for a detrimental combination. There is an abundance of evidence showing how this harm is manifested. One of the ways that stands out in my mind is the case of the Central Park 5. Five 14 year old boys of color were wrongly convicted of rape and put in prison for 20 years. Because of the stereotype of black men being criminals, these boys were wrongly convicted. Due to the perception that black children are more mature than they actually are, these boys likely received a longer sentence. By the time they got out of jail, they had lost their innocence and so much time which they could have used for a good childhood and education.

While this is a severe example, it is not the only one. On top of that there are other examples of black children’s education being put at risk which are much more common. For example, a teacher with implicit biases toward black students may be more harsher in grading. Even if he or she is the best student in the class, a child may lose out on opportunities because of the color of their skin. These are things that many people do not think about but really need to because of the impact that they have. Teachers must learn about these biases and combat them in order to benefit their students. When discussing implicit biases and missed opportunities for people of color, most people are talking about adults. But it is critical to understand that for people of color, these realities start at a young age. So how can we get through to essential adults and teach them about the dangers of prejudices toward children?

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