Children can be biased or racist too, study reveals by Podar Institute of Education

Mumbai,Kranti Vibhute(web team): How young were we when we could differentiate between letters of the alphabet or know what racism and bias were all about? Don’t remember? But a study by Podar Institute of Education showed that children as young as three and a half years show signs of racism and bias. The study observed that these children have strong likes and dislikes for fair and dark skin, can differentiate between expensive and cheap toys, rich and poor and know about religion too.

The purpose of this study was to help parents and teachers understand the likes and dislikes of children at an early age, so that those could be dealt with and taken care of. A total of 7,000 children from Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and Chennai were part of this study. Most of the children were in the age group of 2 to 6 years and some were between 6 and 9 years.

Do children prefer fair skin? Both fair and dark-skinned dolls were kept to figure this out. An 80% of children preferred the fair doll. The reason behind this is that 40% heard from an adult at their home that being fair is better. At least 20% said their mummy uses fairness cream and the rest have seen all bad people in cartoon films as dark-skinned.

At least 89% of children above 6 years of age and upwards showed embarrassment and insensitivity around differently abled children. They do not want to make friends with them or even sit next to them as their parents or grandparents have told them not to sit with such children.

At least 92% of kids between 4 and 8 years could differentiate on religious grounds. It was revealed that while 65% knew that India and Pakistan were different countries, 35% thought they were two sections of society, and of this 23% thought that all Muslims were Pakistanis.

When four year olds were shown pictures of two kids, one looking rich and the other poor, 89% preferred the rich as a friend. Reasons: the other one was dirty and would not have good toys; they would not get good gifts from the poor kid and “my mummy-daddy would not like me playing with the dirty kid.”

Swati Popat Vats of Podar Institute of Education said, “As a sociologist and educationist, this is worrisome. As humans, we will have our bias but our bias should not be ingrained or learnt so early. The study clearly shows that the these children have leanrt to be biased from others, which means that they will never be able to use their judgment to form opinions. Their judgment and opinions will always reflect those of others. This will lead to an intolerant society and will create more and more problems for us.”