- The Traumatic Impact of Racism and Discrimination on Young People and How to Talk About It – Excerpted from Reaching Teens, 2nd Edition
- ‘Dismantle racism at every level’: from the AAP President
AAP leaders have condemned the racism that has incited protests in recent days and are calling on pediatricians to recommit to rooting out inequities that threaten children’s health at all ages.
“We must dismantle racism at every level, from individual to institutional to systemic,” said AAP President Sara “Sally” H. Goza, M.D., FAAP. “Our nation did not get here overnight, and the road to progress and healing will be long and difficult, but the work we have before us is essential. Our children’s future will be built on these moments of reckoning.”
The killing of George Floyd is the latest evidence that racism persists and that much work remains to address inequalities in the nation’s education, employment, judicial and health care systems. Children exposed to discrimination can develop toxic stress that affects their physical, mental and behavioral health throughout their lives.
“Racism harms children’s health, starting from before they are born,” Dr. Goza said. “A growing body of research supports this, and we cannot ignore the impact.”
In its 2019 policy statement The Impact of Racism on Child and Adolescent Health, the AAP provides guidance for pediatricians, calling on them to counsel families on the effects of racism and ensure patients are treated with respect. It also lays out an agenda calling for equitable policies at the local, state and federal level to reduce disparities and advance social justice.
“In the 90-year history of the AAP, advancing child health has often meant fighting for social justice,” said AAP CEO/Executive Vice President Mark Del Monte, J.D. “The mission of the AAP cannot be accomplished when structural racism deprives too many children of a fair chance and an equitable future. Out of our grief and anger, we can strive to recommit to the AAP mission and follow it where it leads. We have always taken on complex threats to children’s health, and we don’t flinch from this one.”
As wrenching images of Floyd’s death and the subsequent protests continue to dominate television news and social media, the AAP encourages parents to proactively engage their children around these traumatic events, taking into account their age and development.
Nia Heard-Garris, M.D., M.Sc., FAAP, chair of the AAP Section on Minority Health, Equity and Inclusion, and Jacqueline Dougé, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP, a co-author of the AAP policy on racism, recommend asking children what they know and have seen, validating their feelings, watching for changes in their behavior, placing limits on what they see in media and discussing the history of racism in the U.S. Additional advice is available at http://ow.ly/bS7y30eoeB6.
“Parents can acknowledge that people are treated differently based on the color of their skin and where they live, and share examples of this happening,” Dr. Dougé said. “Parents can also model how to make a positive difference. For example, perhaps your family can call your city council person or superintendent to advocate for issues faced by communities of color. Adults can also confront their own bias and model how they want their children to respond to others who may be different than them.”
The AAP holds that racism harms everyone, including children of all races and ethnicities. It is not a conversation that can be avoided, said Joseph L. Wright, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP, a member of the AAP Board of Directors and immediate past chair of the AAP Task Force on Addressing Bias and Discrimination.
“These are conversations many African-American families have had to have for generations,” Dr. Wright said. “But if this is not something other families have discussed yet, what is happening right now is an essential and unavoidable, teachable moment. If we are to progress in this country, it’s going to be because we help our children, adolescents and young adults learn not just that racism exists, but that it is something all of us can work together to dismantle. Racism is not inexorable.”
- AAP Policy Statement: The Impact of Racism on Child and Adolescent Health
- To learn about Implicit Bias: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/
- Editorial: Dismantling Structural Racism in Medicine (JAMA: A Piece of my Mind)
- Black thinkers:
- Bryan Stevenson
- Ted Talk https://www.ted.com/talks/bryan_stevenson_we_need_to_talk_about_an_injustice?language=en
- Equal Justice Initiative – talking about history – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRJX5jvORzQ
- Michelle Alexander – http://www.tedxcolumbus.com/speakers-performers/2013-out-there/michelle-alexander/
- Malkia Cyril – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRJX5jvORzQ
- Ta-Nehisi Coates
- So many resources – reparations Congressional testimony
- Interviews about Between the World and Me
- Any of his articles
- Bryan Stevenson
- Latinx Thinkers
- AAPI thinkers
- Rinku Sen – On racial equity in your organization – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5senhp4et-w
- Miriam Yeung – On anti-Asian racism, data, and cross-racial alliance – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dL88wRhAuJU&feature=youtu.be&t=7h17m40s
- White Privilege
- Daily news – https://colorlines.com/
- For Parents:
- Talking to Children after Racial Incidents
- Jason Reynolds talks to Kids about Racism and the Protests
- Having ‘The Talk’: Expert guidance on preparing kids for Police Interactions
- How to be an Anti-racist Parent
- Raising Race Conscious Children
- Supporting kids of color in the wake of Racialized Violence
- Talking to Kids about Racial Violence
- Seven Reminders for White Parents talking to their Kids About Police Killing Black People
- Sesame Street Town Hall on Addressing Racism
- Engaging in Anti-racism Work
- Race, the house we live in (6:04″)
- Check out this website and find where you grew up. What impact did redlining have on your own family’s story? What impact does redlining have to the patients you serve today?
- What is race? – The Origin of Race in US (10:15″) Questions:
- What key learnings do you take away from this video? Anything new or surprising to you?
- How did this video make you feel?
- Race isn’t real, but racism is. How do “biological” explanations of race impact the patients you serve today?
- Whiteness/Building White Allyship (for white people) – Debunking the most common myths white people tell about race (3:47″). Questions:
- How does being afforded the privilege of “not seeing race” impact your life?
- The lives of people of color?
- An evidence-based toolkit to help develop racial literacy: National Council of Nonprofits Resources
- Step-by-step practice pointers for nonprofits embarking on a DEI journey: Parents explain to children how to interact with police
- NY Times: How Redlining’s Racist Effects Lasted for Decades
Racism and Child Health