April 2nd, 2012
10:06 PM ET

Study: Race relations through a child's eyes

Anderson Cooper details the results of a study commissioned by AC360° to explore children's perception of race. In Part I of the "Kids on Race: The Hidden Picture" series, an in-depth look at how young children interpret ambiguous drawings and understand interracial friendships.

Learn more about "Kids on Race: The Hidden Picture"

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Filed under: Kids on Race • Race in America
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Dr. Ernest H. Johnson

    It is great that you are spending this time looking at children, but keep in mind that while the racial make up of students in the classrooms across the US is clearly exploding with a stady increase in the number of students of color, over 85% of the teaching workforce is comprised of white females. The big question: Can white women overcome their racial biases to effectively reach and teach children of color? When you examine the low graduation rates, high dropout rates, grater rates of in and out of school suspensions for Black and Hispanis students, then it clearly looks like white women are struggling to provide students of color with the same quality of education as they provide to white children.

    April 5, 2012 at 7:16 am |
  2. Pachley Forbes

    I think the honesty of theses kinds speak volume of their up bringing,most black kids are religious and think differently.

    April 5, 2012 at 12:33 am |
  3. Dan in Seattle

    Sad that CNN runs with this story again after 2 years and again screws it up in order to push an agenda. The study used is garbage. As a trained Psychologist (though out of practice) I see two ways to have made this study legitimate (with the same result or not). It needed control groups. Control groups version #1 – why were no white kids shown pictures of just white kids in the scenarios? (And black kids shown all black kid versions?) If the white kids had been shown all white situations and not seen the same level of violence, you have "proof" of race playing a major factor in the study. Control groups version #2 – the study authors say that race was not systematically identified as a reason for claiming violence by the kids UNTIL the rest of the questions were asked – probing questions about race! What the heck!!! Of course kids start seeing race as an issue if you ask them to. Why weren't some kids asked about parental rich-vs-poor issues instead of race? Good grades vs bad grades? Something other than what the "researchers" wanted the kids to talk about. Doing both of these control group variations would have ensured the validity of the study by identifying truly if race factored into a judgement call and it would have shown if race only came into it when researchers lead kids to it. Shameful job, CNN.

    April 4, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • April

      Several scenarios would be good but the bottom line is all cultures experience racism and at some point children will have that dance with “racism”. It’s sad but in America it’s usually “I’m black, you’re white” – “I’m white, you’re black”. All parents are skeptical even in 2012 about interracial friendships – Most will not openly admit it, so – Ask the kids and you will find the true issue and fears about race.
      I believe it’s fair to say we as Americans are aware and trying desperately to teach all of our children to be open minded when it comes to race but then there is the other side that simply want to remain separate because of skin color.

      April 4, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
      • Brandon Darby

        There's nothing wrong with not wanting to date outside your race, it's only a harmless and non-invasive personal choice.

        April 6, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • Cathy

      very well put!

      April 5, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  4. Mark

    OK. Here we go again. Another study just involving Black and white. So since race is an issue with two race groups studied here, then we have BIGGGER problem with racist people, cause they always leave out ASIANS who are super racist and if you don't believe me do a study on their kids and that would be a whole segment just In California alone, and how qbout a study on racsim and dating, then you have Persians , Spanish. What I'm trying to say here is race in America is a huge problem because it's a melting pot, in other countries racism is normal and not as so called BAD as it is in America. I'm so sick of this black and white thing. It NOT just that! Its the other races to that make such a nation of low class racist. Anderson and CNN your missing the big picture!

    April 4, 2012 at 7:13 am |
    • Julie Fleming

      Racism is BAD in any country....a South African point of view.

      April 6, 2012 at 6:10 am |
  5. Becca

    It's always against blacks from mostly whites. They want to also take away the black vote and other minorites....are we going to have a second civil war? Whites harm America more than any other race by wanting to 1st steal anothers land, making a race slaves, cheating Americans by bankers stealing there money, Wall Street, biasness with jobs, there continured nepitisam, started all of America wars, segregation and oh so much more...yet, they call themselves "Christians" I recall Jesus helping the poor and out cast. Lord judge America so that we will learn the right lesson.

    April 4, 2012 at 3:11 am |
  6. Jodie H.

    To me this seems like we're moving backward in terms of race relations. When I was a kid (not too long ago) it never occurred to me or any of the kids I went to school with that skin color meant anything, good or bad. Most of my childhood friends were black or Mexican and it didn't make a difference to anyone. I'd be interested to know exactly what sort of communities are raising these children to believe that there are differences between skin color and to believe that any one is less than the other. I'd also like to know why these kids are AFRAID of being friends with someone who doesn't look like them. I know my generation will do a better job of raising openminded and openhearted children who don't discriminate on such superficial terms.

    April 3, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • Brandon Darby

      If someone doesn't wish to associate with individuals of a different race from their own it's their harmless personal choice.

      April 6, 2012 at 12:58 am |
  7. Ruth Mays

    This video makes me very sad. I had hoped that there were changes, but apparently not. I can remember sitting in the back of the bus with Beatrice who picked up up at the nursery school, and the looks of hatred that the white adults gave us because we were sitting in the wrong place. I remember inviting the maid of our friends over to dinner, and being upset when she would not come- she was afraid that we would get in trouble. I was a child in Little Rock when Central High School was integrated, and mostly watched it on TV. It was awful how those 9 brave children were treated. We spent many hours discussing the situation at home. I was so proud when my mother joined the mother's committee to re-open the schools (the high schools were closed for a year). I knew that this did not make us very popular in the neighborhood, but it was the right thing to do.
    Unfortunately, the parents of many of the children in the video have done an amazing job of teaching their children to discriminate. You really have to teach that to children apparently. My parents did not do that!

    April 3, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
  8. Roda Lerpold

    As a grandmother this makes me very sad. I have grandchildren with different skin color, and my hope is that they will always love each other, and maybe learn that inside we are all alike!

    April 3, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
  9. Tammy

    In response to your piece on "Race Relations Through A Child's Eyes" I did not think that the images were ambiguous at all. The first image depicts an African American boy "Bobby" standing behind the swing with one hand in a fist, a scowl on his face and arms slightly bowed in an aggressive gesture with a disturbed looking caucasian boy "Scott" on the ground. The second image, depicts a caucasian boy "Chris" standing behind the swing much like Bobby in the first image while an African American child "Alex", who on first glance, looks effeminate and more sad than disturbed. I'm not a child however, I think that this simply results in a less immediate response to the emotional quotient and subsequent conclusion that a child would make. This doesn't seem like a fair comparison to make in an effort to gauge an honest racially motivated response.

    April 3, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Al

      I, too, had to reexamine the pictures for the claimed ambiguity. If you look closely, you will notice that they are the exact same picture. The only difference is the boys' skin color and their hairstyle. As adults, we are not immune to the same biases that our children display. Even as an black woman, I constantly have to challenge my views of others and the world and ask myself if what I am choosing to believe is the truth.

      April 3, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
  10. Malcolm

    Shame on us for teaching this filth to our children – they can't be friends because their skin color differs! Why can't we let our children pick and choose their own friends the old fashioned way: if we like the same things then we're friends. Do we really have to teach our kids to dislike others because their skin color is different? Teach them about other races and other cultures, surely, but let them decide their choice of friends. Kids tend to be alot more intelligent than we give them credit for. The old thinking that kids don't know what's good for them is not exactly true nowadays. Having helped raise kids in my own family since I was a kid myself I can tell you, they know a great deal more than we do.

    April 3, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  11. George

    I watched this and I was amazed by what I saw. I live in South Africa and I grew up during the apartheid democracy transition Although we had a black domestic worker, I was taught that we are not different even though she and her children were black, and they lived in a seperate area in town.

    Thats besides the point. My point is, I would like to see a similar study done here in South Africa, and see what the attitudes of the children are in the various provinces, townships and suburbs.

    April 3, 2012 at 8:24 am |
  12. Tracee' in Phoenix

    loved the honesty of your young participants I just wanted to comment on their honesty is due that they havent been chastied yet for speaking the truth-Children learn what they live and live what they learn-and havent been programed to PC correct. The parents didnt have the time to reprogram them. I dont think that children of color have a more positive view but are open to more opportunities and they see themselves in the role of the good child of color in the pictures and have been verbally taught about race relations at home.

    April 3, 2012 at 2:06 am |
    • Ron

      This once again proves that our discord is far worst. All kids start out with positive view until that view is changed or twisted by some parents. Most kids do not know about race until it is introduced by parents of that child. Have you notice where the role of the good child of color. It really starts at home in more ways than one, whether you teach your kids to treat those as they wish to be treated. Telling our kids that it is okay to play with the kid that does not look as they do. Telling them it is not okay to call a person a name as they do not want them to do it themselves.

      April 4, 2012 at 9:14 pm |