Racism and Children of Color
According to American Academy of Pediatrics, “Racism is a socially transmitted disease passed down through generations.” racism is a pervasive social issue that plays a large role in the environment, children grow up in, the quality of their schools, the air they breathe, the water they drink. Thus, Racism affects children physically, economically, emotionally, socially and in so many other ways. Children who grow up in neighborhoods exposed to lead, food, desserts, violence are more likely to engage negatively with the police, experience health issues such as asthma, obesity, childhood cancer and diabetes. There are few job opportunities, transportation is limited, fewer safe recreation facilities, limited opportunity to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables, while having an abundance supply of tobacco, e-cigarettes, and alcohol.
Children exposed to racism have higher rates of suicide, depression, stress and their self-esteem are impacted. Children may shy away from participating in school activities or may become more disruptive as they cannot express themselves in inappropriate ways, consequently, get suspended at a greater rate than their white classmates. A child may react by withdrawing from activities they use to enjoy or speaking up less in class.
What Can parents do?
Parents need to be active in their child's life. Keep lines of communications opened and be observant to their children's mood swings. Start by acknowledging your own biases.
1. Model appropriate behavior in thoughts, feelings, and actions.
2. Expose children to culture and point out the contribution made by their ancestors.
3. Volunteer and participate in civic activity.
4. Participate in the election process, modeling to children that they can vote people into office that can change policies to make life better for their community.
5. Include in family vacation museums, and historical site where children can expand their cultural knowledge.
6. Visit friends of a different race place of worship, parties and other social activity.Additional Resources to Help Parents Address Racism & Discrimination:
· Help Your Kids Find Books with Diverse Characters (Common Sense Media)
· Apps and Games with Diverse Characters (Common Sense Media)
· Beyond the Golden Rule. A Parent's Guide to Preventing and Responding to Prejudice (Tolerance.org)
· A Conversation on Race (New York Times)
· Racism and Its Impact on Child and Adolescent Health (AAP Policy Statement)
Ashaunta Anderson, MD, MPH, MSHS, FAAP & Jacqueline Dougé, MD, MPH, FAAP 6/25/2020
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