What to Tell Your Child About
Prejudice and Discrimination

Learning Prejudice
Media Influence & Self-Image
Responding to Children
What Can Parents Do About Prejudice?

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The population of our nation is becoming increasingly diverse. Here are some suggestions to help your child get along with people of varied backgrounds and abilities in the United States today.


Attitudes or opinions about a person or group simply because the person belongs to a specific religion, race, nationality, or other group. Prejudices involve strong feelings that are difficult to change. Prejudice is pre-judging. A person who thinks, "I don't want (name of group) living in my neighborhood," is expressing a prejudice.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, people of color are expected to grow from 30.9 percent of the population in 2000 to 36.2 percent of the population in 2020. For Americans younger than 40, there are 2 white people for every person of color. Among children younger than 10 years old, the ratio is 1.5 to 1. Thus our schools are increasingly educating children who come from a wide range of backgrounds, abilities, and experiences. And the workforce of the near future will be composed of a majority of women and people of color.

While today's changing demographics are compelling, historically the United States has always been challenged to find effective ways for its diverse populations to live and work well together. To ensure their potential for success, we must prepare all children to live and work harmoniously and productively alongside others who represent various and many racial and cultural groups, backgrounds and abilities in our society. One of the greatest obstacles to creating such a future is prejudice. While many of us would like to believe that prejudice is a problem of the past, this is not the case. Incidents of prejudice and discrimination occur every day. For example, on a daily basis:

  • Some people are called hurtful names or are excluded from participating in events;

  • Some people are unfairly excluded from jobs, neighborhoods, bank loans, educational opportunities, social events and clubs;

  • Some people are attacked and beaten;

  • Some people's homes, places of worship, or cemeteries are vandalized; and

  • Some people are unfairly paid less than others for doing equal work.

Such instances of discrimination are far from rare. If we are to have a just society, it is up to each of us to take a stand against such unfair practices and attitudes. We must teach our children that there is no place for prejudice or discrimination in our communities, homes, schools or places of work.

Next: Learning Prejudice

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2001 Anti-Defamation League