Oftentimes people believe that adults become prejudice when they are older and it develops as they mature and form their own opinions on life. However prejudice is a learned behavior that begins in childhood.
When a child is younger they absorb whatever material they can see, hear or touch. During the bobo doll experiment it was proven that a child will mimic an adult’s behavior to be aggressive towards the doll after watching the adult hit it. The child did not understand the behavior, did not understand the aggression or that the behavior was not a positive one. The child simply watched and followed. This is how a child learns and understands the world around him starting at a young age.
Adults do not just turn prejudice one day, the conditioned behavior begins when they are children by the influences of the adults around them. Prejudices are usually based off fears and misconceptions others have that are inaccurate and not immediately corrected. Children absorb the assumptions and prejudice’s around them by observing the adults they are in contact with daily.
One way to reduce the amount of prejudice we see in society today is to begin targeting prejudice and begin education at a younger age. The education system should begin focusing more on educating students on how to recognize, react, and reduce the prejudice they have learned and unconsciously continue to enforce in their daily lives. There is an old saying that goes, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”; one translation of this means, it is hard to change a thought or belief that someone has had for a long time. If the education system can intervene while the students are younger, the system can correct harmful, inaccurate thoughts and educate on truth, equality and honesty.
It is important to frame children’s thoughts and beliefs while they are young and impressionable to be more positive, welcoming, and fair rather than attempt to correct a thought that an adult has had for many years.
Oswalt Morelli, A. (n.d.). Prejudice. Retrieved March 26, 2020, from https://www.gracepointwellness.org/1262-child-development-parenting-middle-8-11/article/38395-prejudice