By Yolanda Spivey
A new study published by the American Psychological Association (APA) confirmed what we all have suspected for years when it comes to Black boys—that they are viewed as older and less innocent than their white counterparts. The research also points out they are more likely “perceived” to be guilty and face a far greater amount of police violence when accused of a crime.
The APA conducted two separate studies to come up with their conclusions. In the first study, they analyzed data from 176 police officers who were, on average, 37 year old white males. They all had experience working in predominately urban areas. To test for prejudice, the officers were given questionnaires with statements such as “It is likely that Blacks will bring violence to neighborhoods when they move in.” The researchers also viewed the personnel records of the officers and found that those who dehumanized Blacks on their questionnaires were more likely to use excessive force against Black children.
In the second study conducted, the APA examined the results of 264 white female undergraduate students from public universities around the United States. The experiment showed that they viewed all children, regardless of race as innocent up until the age of 9. But at the age of 10 and beyond, they considered Black children less innocent than children of other races. The study also showed the participants overestimating the ages of Black children by an average of 4.5 years, and often associated Blacks with apes.
Mathew Jackson, PhD, co-author of the study stated, “The evidence shows that perceptions of the essential nature of children can be affected by race, and for black children, this can mean they lose the protection afforded by assumed childhood innocence well before they become adults.” He further said, “With the average age overestimation for black boys exceeding four-and-a-half years, in some cases, black children may be viewed as adults when they are just 13 years old.”
As an author. I usually don’t give my opinion, but I must. It’s no wonder why in certain instances news outlets referred to Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis as “men” when describing them–when in essence, they were just young teenagers. If Black boys are seen as older, then society does not see their innocence, therefore bypassing the need to protect them. They also have a further burden of being seen as more responsible for their actions when their white counterparts are seen as not being responsible for theirs.
For a full transcript of the study, you can visit APA Public Affairs Office at http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/psp-a0035663.pdf.