How Racism Affects Children

Did you know that there are physiological effects upon children being raised in a stressful racist environment? Their blood pressure and heart rate increases. Stress hormones such as cortisol are elevated and their immune system can trigger an inflammatory response making it harder for wound healing and fighting infection. Continuous “toxic stress” from long periods of being in, living in or experiencing or exposed in early childhood to an environment of systemic racism, does not inevitably lead to disease early in life but does increase the risk of later problems, prolonged elevations of blood sugar leading to insulin resistance, obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes, heart disease and autoimmune disorders. Growing up in a racist environment can have an impact on their lifestyles and individual responsibilities in adulthood because of the continuous activation of stress at home that has a wear-and-tear effect inside their young growing bodies.

Racism affects children and young people’s mental health growing up in a racist environment and consumed with hearing about it and identifying with it being a priority of their parents or family members and affects their relationships with or relating to their peers who are not their race, falsely and negatively perceiving them as people to be hated and to protect themselves from and not to be accepted, which can lead to experiencing feelings of loneliness and social isolation, racism influencing their decision-making, and even education and future careers, not able to appropriately connect to people not their race which can include their teachers, as well as fellow students, and their association with future coworkers as well as supervisors a different race or nationality, making it difficult to work with and communicate and live, as well as go to school with or work with others because of their continuous ever-increasing exposure to racism as children having a detrimental effect on their overall mental health and well being as well as their physiological health and well-being, having developed serious issues due to growing up exposed to a racist environment, the influence of their racist family’s routines and racist parents moods and social interactions with other racist, which directly and seriously affects children.

Children continuously exposed to racism, even from ages 3-10 years old, may experience and display racial discrimination, teasing others and may be teased, as well as bullying or bullied by others, instead of playing with them, and continually experiencing racial stress, mood changes and negative and detrimental emotions, fear, anxiety, anger, and sadness stemming from racism. They may start arguments or be withdrawn and physically experience headaches, insomnia, and nausea, confusion, and difficulty concentrating, overwhelmed and having difficulty accepting and being accepted by children of a different race, nationality or religion because their racist parents, family members and peers and exposed to racial stressors through social media and conversations with or heard listening to others about false and negative racial differences and prejudices and about plans for racial violence promoting racism.

It is important for parents and caregivers to make it clear that racism is wrong and to encourage doing positive and enjoyable activities with children of other races, nationalities and beliefs in God. Have conversations with your child about racism, even at an early age, as young as ages 3-10. Let them celebrate being the race they are in positive ways and in activities they participate in with other races, but stress that everyone is equal and they should feel comfortable around and communicating with and playing with others of a different race or nationality or religion, making and talking to friends who are a different from them and that it should be a positive situation and experience having fun and learning in school together and in other situations intermingling with other races. They should never feel ashamed, sad or angry because of what racist peers may have to say about them associating with people a different skin color or religion or nationality.

Explain about racism calmly offering comforting and gentle words of encouragement and about racism being wrong, and understand their confused feelings and support them and make it easy for them to understand about racism in a healthy way and encouraging and empowering them and making them feel confident about making friends and playing and enjoying activities and being in school and church and other public places and private homes and environment with children of another race or religion or nationality without causing or experiencing racial discrimination, or experiencing disparities in health or learning, which undermines their opportunities to achieve their full potential, and can cause them to experience chronic stress or hardships that can affect their learning, behavior and lifelong health not understanding and accepting that racism and racial slurs and hate are wrong. 

Racism negatively impacts children’s identity and self-esteem, playing a large role in the environment they are growing up in, and definitely affects when they go to school, contributes to health conditions and impacts a child for life, including depression, anxiety, and behavior problems stemming from hatred. Racism is stressful and damaging to a child’s physical and emotional health.

Children, even at an early age, need the support of being taught the right ideals of equality and justice talked openly to about race and exposed to interracial events and a to a variety of cultures and hearing positive things about other races who, like them, do not deserve to be discriminated against, but have a strong sense of self and pride in who they are and acceptance by and of their peers.

Posted in Children.