How do prejudices and racism develop in children?
How do children learn about diversity in society based on ethnicity and race? How can parents promote inclusive attitudes and prevent prejudice and racism in children? What is the role of education and books in nurturing positive relations between people with different ethnicities or race?
Many adults assume that children do not see or notice differences between people based on ethnicity and race, and that they are ‘colorblind’. These adults tend to tell children that all people are the same, avoiding the topic of human ethnic-racial diversity for fear of stimulating prejudice. Others prefer to discuss and celebrate human difference in the hope of promoting appreciation for ethnic-racial diversity, and prevent prejudice in children. In addition, children’s books and school textbooks can contain mixed messages about ethnic-racial diversity in society, representing and emphasizing human sameness or difference to varying degrees.
Research about the influence of different socialisation ideologies, strategies and resources on the development of children’s ethnic-racial attitudes about themselves and others is still relatively rare, but the field is growing and is becoming increasingly better able to answer questions about potential strategies to prevent prejudice and racism in the next generation, although many questions remain.
Judi Mesman will discuss the ways that key people and resources in children’s lives teach them about themselves and others in an ethnic-racially diverse society, and what questions researchers should address to foster children’s contribution to an inclusive society. Her talk will be based on the findings of recent studies from the Netherlands, and related studies from other countries..
This event is an initiative by the Dutch Institute for Emergent Phenomena (DIEP) with the support of NWA Route2.
Science & Cocktails Amsterdam is presented in cooperation with Paradiso Amsterdam.
Event photo by The Billboard Hot 100 in skincolor by Babak Fakhamzadeh (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).
Judi Mesman is a professor in the field of youth and society at Leiden University. Her interdisciplinary research program focuses on the role of different socialization agents in the development of children’s views of themselves, others, and the world around them, with particular attention to issues of ethnic-racial and gender diversity. She invests in linkages between science and society, and in 2021 received the Stevin Prize, the highest Dutch national award for research that impacts society. She is an elected member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), and the author of a Dutch book for parents about anti-racist parenting (Opgroeien in kleur). Photo by Studio Oostrum.