According to Salon.com reports:
In a new study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers asked college students and police officers to estimate the ages of young children who they were told had committed a crime (both misdemeanors and felonies). In both groups, respondents were far more likely to overestimate the ages of young black boys than young white boys; they were also less likely to view black children as innocent.
“Children in most societies are considered to be in a distinct group with characteristics such as innocence and the need for protection,” study author and professor of psychology at UCLA Phillip Atiba Goff said of the study. “Our research found that black boys can be seen as responsible for their actions at an age when white boys still benefit from the assumption that children are essentially innocent.”
The goal of the study, according to researchers, was to determine the extent to which respondents dehumanized young black children, and how this racist dehumanization can lead to violence and unjust treatment. “[I]f human childhood affords protections against harsh, adult-like treatment, then in contexts where these children are dehumanized, they can be treated with adult severity” — specifically in the criminal justice system, researchers wrote.
We see this time and time again in the stories that we report. Our children are simply not allowed to be children. The scary part is that police and other people’s tendency to perceive them as innocent could result in greater physical harm to them.
There was also a correlation between the police officers’ responses and their record of using force against people suspected of a crime, specifically young black boys, though Goff noted that “future research should try to clarify the relationship between dehumanization and racial disparities in police use of force.”
“The evidence shows that perceptions of the essential nature of children can be affected by race, and for black children, this can mean they lose the protection afforded by assumed childhood innocence well before they become adults,” said co-author Matthew Jackson. “With the average age overestimation for black boys exceeding four-and-a-half years, in some cases, black children may be viewed as adults when they are just 13 years old.”
This information gives a lot of great insight but how do we change these perceptions??? How can the information be used to create change?
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