Science Says This Is the Age That Children Begin to Experience the Effects of Racial Bias
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Science Says This Is the Age That Children Begin to Experience the Effects of Racial Bias

With a string of controversies over police brutality this year and the #BlackLivesMatter movement in full swing, race relations are just as important now as they ever were — even for celebs that are typically removed from the issues that affect the masses, such as Kim Kardashian.

While we’re still seemingly a long ways off from knowing exactly how to solve these ongoing struggles, a new study from the Yale Child Study Center is at least giving us an idea of how early we need to start paying attention to them, and sadly, it’s much sooner than you might expect.

According to the study, which saw more than 130 teachers and administrators watching video footage of preschool-aged child actors (thought to be actual students by the staff) in an effort to ferret out any “challenging behaviors,” researchers found that black children, particularly males, were examined more closely than any other group.

When asked which “children” were in most need of attention, 42 percent of educators pointed out black boys regardless of a lack of challenging behavior, 34 percent chose white boys and only 10 to 13 percent chose black or white girls.

A second part of the study then gave the same educators hypothetical scenarios in which a “child” from a troubled home was misbehaving, and asked to rate his/her behavior. Surprisingly, white teachers rated students with traditionally “black names,” such as LaToya or DeShawn less harshly, while black teachers gave them longer suspensions. Yet, instead of suggesting that white educators favored their black students, researchers surmised that it actually meant they were holding them to lower standards than their white counterparts.

And according to Walter Gilliam, a director in child development and social policy at Yale University, that’s bad news bears. “Low expectations for students (of any age) can have very devastating impacts…Children tend to live up to our expectations — and they also tend to live down on them,” he told CNN.

While those are certainly some discouraging findings, Walter, for one, believes it’s a step toward finding a solution. “What we really probably need to be doing is helping teachers better understand [racial bias] and feel more comfortable around it and feel more comfortable talking about race in our schools and even our pre-schools.”

Hear, hear.

Are you surprised by these findings? Share with us over @BritandCo!  

 (h/t CNN, photos via Getty)