Study Shows That Black Girls are Deemed “Less Innocent” in Comparison to Their Peers

Written by Gabriella Andrean

This Tuesday, Georgetown Law’s Center on Poverty and Inequality released a statement on a groundbreaking study which finds that black girls, particularly ages 5-14, tend to be looked at as “less innocent” in comparison to their white peers.

The term “adultification” serves the meaning of viewing children as mature solely based on social stereotypes. Because black women are usually associated with being loud, overly-assertive, and threatening, they are then seen as less capable of receiving affection and support. Back in 2010, a study by Texas A&M researchers found that teachers tend to punish black girls more harshly for the same wrongdoing because they “seem to defy these traditional standards of femininity which suggest that girls should be quiet, reserved and submissive.”

“All black girls are entitled to and deserve equal treatment, including equal access to the protections that are appropriate for children.”Rebecca Epstein, Executive Director, Center on Poverty and Inequality at Georgetown University Law Center

While there have been various studies surrounding the idea of racial bias and punishment within the black youth, Georgetown is the first to focus primarily on black girls. Their study included 325 adults (74% being white) that went through various exercises to understand discrete perceptions. The study concluded that black girls are looked at as less innocent at a much earlier age than boys are, starting at age 5 for girls. We have seen many studies revolving around black boys in previous years, but the conversation of black girls hasn’t been the topic of conversation.

Georgetown’s study is now looked at as an eye-opener for those ignorant about racial bias both within the educational systems and even within the criminal-justice systems. This a step in the journey of erasing racial bias for all minorities, especially for our young black girls.


Walker's Legacy Foundation

The mission of the Walker’s Legacy Foundation is to provide a foundation of entrepreneurial, financial and professional support to improve the economic equality and entrepreneurial prosperity of women. The Walker’s Legacy Foundation is a project of the Washington Association of Regional Grantmakers.

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