Ruby M. Gourdine, DSW, MSW, LICSW, LCSW, is a faculty member at the Howard University School of Social Work. She presented the NASW Specialty Practice Sections webinar Teaching Children About Race and Ethnicity, now available on demand.
The presentation outlines when and how to talk to children about race and ethnicity at a time when race is a prominent issue in society. The webinar explores developmental readiness and the comfort level of parents in raising the issue or responding to their child’s questions. A discussion ensues about how different racial groups may approach this topic.
Gourdine notes that children learn racial bias:
- As early as 6 months, a baby’s brain can notice race-based differences
- By ages 2-4, children can internalize racial bias
- By age 12, many children become set in their beliefs
She encourages people talk with their children and acknowledge that racial differences exist. It is also important to confront your own bias and model how you want your children to respond to others who might be different from them. The webinar’s learning objectives aim to:
- Help practitioners assist parents to assess their comfort level in discussing issues of race with their children.
- Assist practitioners in addressing issues of race in their practice.
- Increase the comfort level in discussing race.