Are Black Children Forced to Grow Up Faster Than White Children
YES Black kids are forced to grow up quicker than their white counterparts- that is, they are seen as adults much sooner than white children. Most societies afford children special qualities and privileges, innocence being chief among them-this is a privilege not extended to black kids, This may sound absurd, after all, children are children and everyone ages at the same rate- no one is 18 until they’re 18. However society has forced black children into adulthood well before their time.
According to research published by the American Psychological Association, black boys are perceived as older and inherently less innocent than their white counterparts. This has huge and sometimes violent and deadly ramifications, when police show this same bias. In the study 264 mostly white female undergraduates rated the innocence of people- infants to 25 years old. When the kids were nine years or younger, no matter the race, the level of perceived innocence was the same. However when kids were 10 years old, the average age of black boys was overestimated by four and-a-half years (Phillip Atiba Goff PhD). They also were rated as less innocent. The reason that seeing kids as older than they are is harmful is that, society understands that adults can be held more responsible for their actions and that kids may not understand the extent of what they’re doing, or may not have been able to control themselves. When this same courtesy is not extended to black children, they are left looking more responsible. The special brand of understanding and compassion reserved for kids that doesn’t go to them, leaving them vulnerable in the worst possible ways.
The adultification of black children is also evident in the justice system by the amount of black children tried as adults. According to WNYC |New York Public Radio, about 68% of all the minors prosecuted in the state of New Jersey had their prosecutor request to try them as adults (Sarah Gonzales ).
Outside of black children being tried as adults, even when tried as the children they are, they are given harsher and longer sentences than their age mates of different races. They are also disciplined more harshly in school settings. Even in preschool, children aged around four year old, black kids, although they make up only 18% of the preschool population, make up nearly 50% of out of school suspensions(NPR). This again shows that even at tender preschool ages, black kids are somehow more responsible for their actions. That every infraction, no matter the size, committed by a black child had malicious intent behind it.
By not being afforded the luxury of innocence, black children are having their childhood effectively taken from them.
“Black Girls Viewed As Less Innocent Than White Girls, Georgetown Law Research Finds.” Black Girls Viewed As Less Innocent Than White Girls, Georgetown Law Research Finds – Georgetown Law, https://www.law.georgetown.edu/news/press-releases/Black-Girls-Viewed-As-Less-Innocent-Than-White-Girls-Georgetown-Law-Research-Finds.cfm
“Kids in Prison: Getting Tried as An Adult Depends on Skin Color.” WNYC, www.wnyc.org/story/black-kids-more-likely-be-tried-adults-cant-be-explained/.
American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2014/03/black-boys-older.aspx.
“Racial Inequality in Youth Sentencing.” Working to end the practice of sentencing children to life in prison without the possibility of parole, fairsentencingofyouth.org/the-issue/advocacy-resource-bank/racial-inequality-in-youth-sentencing/.
“Black Preschoolers Far More Likely To Be Suspended.” NPR, NPR, 21 Mar. 2014, www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2014/03/21/292456211/black-preschoolers-far-more-likely-to-be-suspended.