Op/Ed: The Science of Reducing Prejudice in Kids

Making schools more welcoming for all can make for a fair and just society
Scientific American

School can teach young children more than skills like spelling and multiplication. In a new essay, Melanie Killen, professor of human development, writes that it can also teach children how to act on their sense of fairness, and that exclusion of others is wrong.

Writing in Scientific American, Killen recounts decades of research in the College of Education that focus on methods of reducing prejudice and standing up to injustice to make school a more effective learning environment for all.

For many children, discrimination inflicts anxiety and misery and interferes with their learning. Schools could be far more welcoming than most now are, and I and other developmental psychologists have an idea of how to help them get there.

After decades of investigating children’s moral de­­vel­op­ment, my colleagues and I have come to understand the reasoning children use to deal with the dissonance between their desire to be fair and their need to belong to friend groups. And we’ve figured out how to help them think through and share their views, particularly about what makes social exclusion unfair and why it’s necessary to stand up against stereotypes and biases.

Read the rest in Scientific American.