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Harbouring stereotypes by Adhithya Mohan

By Volunteer Adhithya Mohan, FHI Kochi 

It’s a common assumption that children are unaware of racial differences and they do not discriminate on the basis of gender, caste, ethnicity and many other characteristics. While young children do notice differences, they primarily learn from whatever they see. So, it is very important to nurture kids and help them learn to place a positive value on those differences and to treat people with all respect.

“This robber is brown, all brown people must be robbers”, “She can’t be a doctor because she’s a girl”, “People on wheelchairs can’t do anything in life”. Heard this before? You would have because we live in a society where people have such stereotypes and beliefs perpetuating social evils. Children are innocent beings who are permeable to any conditioning and because of that they too end up harbouring such stereotypes. Is it their fault? No. It is the fault of those people who are responsible for shaping them like this.

Schools use value education classes and multicultural anti bias approaches to teach children good values and to not follow such stereotypes and discriminate people. But education by itself is not enough to eliminate prejudice or injustice, Events in the form of classes and teaching as a result will not help the children retain positive social behaviour. The application of an anti-bias approach in the activities we conduct during events can definitely help young children develop pride in who they are, respect for others and the commitment and ability to act against injustice individually and in cooperation with others.

It’s necessary to teach young children about the complexities of these social evils and for that we can start with activities that encourage children to share who they are – talking about their lives, supporting positive feelings about one’s self, family, race culture etc. We can use creative interactive materials using pictures and narrate stories which would help them understand this complexity.

FHI provides a platform and in that platform we volunteers can use these techniques to actually boil down these issues and help young innocent souls understand that all human beings deserve to be treated equally with respect.

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