To stop the defamation of the Jewish people... to secure justice and fair treatment to all
Hate Hurts
Hate Hurts
Kids Do Experience Hate
Responding to Situations You Find Offensive:
A Five-Step Process
Hate Hurts Table of Contents
Tips for Teachers/Parents
Lesson Plans

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How Children Learn and Unlearn Prejudice RULE
Kids Do Experience Hate (Chapter 1 of Hate Hurts)

    "I am a brown-skinned girl, a mixture of Spanish, Japanese, and Filipino, who was born in San Francisco. When I started kindergarten, my family lived right in the city and my classmates were of all different colors and cultures. We all got along.

    "In first grade, I moved to the suburbs, and suddenly everyone but me was white. The kids in my class teased me and kept asking me what I was. Finally, I asked my mom, `What am I?'

    "My mom said, `You are a cosmopolitan a person of the world.'

    "I went back to school and told my classmates, `I am a cosmopolitan. That means I am a person of the world.' "My classmates were impressed that I knew such a big word. They stopped teasing me and started treating me with respect. Maybe they wanted to be cosmopolitans, too."

If only it were always that simple. If only we could easily eliminate the pain our children our children experience when what makes them different also makes them the victim of teasing or even more serious acts of hate.  Although the above story is true, it does not reflect the experiences most of us have had  when we've tried to help our children understand that being different does not make them better or worse that others  -- just different.  Most parents have faced this task without preparation.  Although we want to help our children feel good about who an what they are and to value diversity, we often have little in the way of explanations or recommendations that will ease their pain. 

Every day, in our cities and suburbs, small towns and countryside, in our classrooms and playgrounds and on our streets, our children are experiencing incidents and feelings such as those given below -the words and acts of prejudice and their effects, from the most subtle to the most violent:

  • "When I first came to this country, I had a problem speaking English correctly. I had an accent and they made fun of it."

  • "They were talking about ice-skating. I was hoping they would ask me to go with them. But they said, 'She can't ice-skate, she's Chinese.' (Well, I'm actually Korean, but they thought I was Chinese.) I bet I was probably better at skating than them - I was in group skating for two years. But they said, `Chinese don't like sports. They don't want to go out. All they want to do is school. They want to look good in front of teachers."'

  • "These two girls came along and they, like, pushed me out of the way. They just have these moods where one day they, like, really feel like beating somebody up, so they find a white girl who's walking around, and they do."

Kids who have been the victims of prejudice not only suffer deeply themselves, they may also start causing others to suffer in return. Some report on how their own feelings and behavior toward "different" people changed after they'd been hurt:

  • "I got punched in the face, but that didn't really hurt me. The wounds heal. But they kept on calling me spic through the whole thing. I walk in the street and I feel lower.

  • "All this prejudice is starting to affect the way I feel about other people. I'm starting to be prejudiced myself."

  • "He actually spit in my sandwich . . . and said something like, `I bet you're really hungry now, right? I bet you're really hungry now, black nigger - right? Right?'

  • "I've been through so much where prejudice is concerned, right now it's at the boiling point. It's, like, don't even think it . . . don't start it. You go your way and I'll go mine. Just leave me alone."

  • "He told me, `My mother said I can't trust black people. I'm supposed to hate black people.' "After a while I hated anyone who wasn't my color, and I was a bully all of a sudden."

  • "Sometimes when the kids single out a person and they start making fun of him, at first I object and I don't take part in it. But then, after a while, I start: thinking like them and I laugh, too. Prejudice is sort of contagious."

Prejudice is contagious. When people are afraid or have actually been hurt, it may be a natural response to want to hurt back. But hurting one another only escalates the hatred and violence - and the differences don't go away. We live in a world of differences -different races, religions, cultures, sexual orientations, abilities. The differences can seem strange and overwhelming, even frightening. In an effort to cope, we may all find ourselves wanting just to stay with. "our own kind," avoiding people who aren't like us, sometimes resorting to hurtful words and actions ourselves to manage our fears. At the beginning of this new century and millennium, we must deal with our differences - in schools and workplaces, in books and newspapers, on television and online, even in our own families.

Prejudice is only one way of dealing with differences. Instead, we can learn to respect differences, to see them as a source of strength in our lives and society, even celebrate them. In place of prejudice, we can teach acceptance and understanding. Meeting this challenge requires both preparation and practice.

Projects such as ADL's A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute have offered training and materials to hundreds of thousands of educators, thus reaching millions of students. As parents, we must reinforce their message -- we must bring it home to our dinner tables and be sure that our children understand it.

This book offers you, as the primary influences in your children's lives, basic principles, skills, and strategies, along with. real-life scenarios, to help you teach them to turn the fear and pain of prejudice into the courage and cooperation of understanding and respect.

In Part One, we will show you how children perceive differences at successive stages of their development. Our natural individual differences tend to become generalized into stereotypes of group differences. We explain how we can help ourselves and our children appreciate differences and resist forming biases about them. We offer guidance that can prevent differences from causing us to hurt or hate one another.

In Part Two, we give you true stories about children of different ages and backgrounds. The kids have been either the objects or the perpetrators of hateful words and actions, or they have observed or challenged hate directed at someone else. Here we offer specific advice on how to respond when your children face similar situations. Whatever role your child has played, you'll find helpful suggestions.

In Part Three, we provide guidelines for challenging and resisting biased material and information in schools, books, movies, on television, and online.

At the end of the book is a list of resources, including organizations and Web sites, reference books, and age appropriate children's books, to aid you in continuing your efforts to close the book on hate.


A Joint Campaign of ADL and Barnes & Noble to Break the Cycle of Hate Through Reading
Additional Resources

A World Of Difference®
  • Recognizing bias
  • Exploring diversity
  • Combating prejudice
Related Links
What to Tell Your Child about Prejudice?
No Place For Hate:
101 Ways You Can Beat Prejudice!
Discussing Hate & Violence with your Child
Talking to your Child about Hatred & Prejudice

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