The news has always been a public forum for debates about race. Even when the news isn’t specifically focused on the topic of race, it can send important messages about different cultures. Kids have a way of picking up on these subtle cues from the media. Kids can get their first glimpses of stereotypes from the news and other media. Is your child seeing that certain races are mostly seen as poor, or involved in crime, while others are always experts or professionals? Talk with your kids about race, especially when you see generalizations and stereotypes. Look to balance what your child sees in the news with a dose of reality. If your son says he sees a particular race being arrested on the news all the time, explain to him that even though those particular people may have committed crimes, that doesn’t mean their particular race should be associated with crime. The truth is crimes are committed by people of all different colors and the news tends to report on crimes disproportionately by race.
A good way to start a conversation on race is by talking with your child about what respect means and how to be respectful of all people regardless of race, religion, age or any other characteristic. Make sure your child knows not to limit herself based on what she thinks people feel about her race or background.
For more information on talking with your kids about race, diversity and tolerance, visit www.tolerance.org.