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Study: Children Are Aware of Voter Prejudice in US

The "race card" has been a hot phase for pundits, politicians, and the general population throughout campaign season (McCain's own camp even alleged that Obama "played the race card" earlier this Summer), and apparently, it's a notion that's not lost on the youngest among us. A new study shows children are aware white males have monopolized the US presidency, and most attribute the trend to racial prejudice.

Researchers at the University of Texas found most elementary-school-aged children are aware there has been no female, African-American, or Hispanic president. Many of the children attribute the lack of representation to discrimination.

The research team interviewed 205 children aged five to 10 in 2006, a year before Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama began their historic bids for the presidency. For additional findings,


  • A third of the children said the white male monopoly was due to "racial and gender bias," and another third believed members of the excluded groups "lacked the skills to hold the position."
  • One in four participants told researchers they thought it was "illegal for women and minorities to hold the office of president."
  • The study found children were generally optimistic about the possibility that they could be president.

Rebecca Bigler, professor of psychology at the University of Kansas, and lead author of the study, noted the topic of how racial and gender exclusion play into our politics is not typically explained to children so they appear to create their own explanations for the exclusion.


Join The Conversation
bastylefilegirl bastylefilegirl 8 years
Duh, kids know when there parents are fighting too etc etc. I'm sure kids get some of this from there parents, but if the News is on and they are in the room I'm sure they get it from there too. I was taught when I was young that I can do and be anything on Earth if I wanted and I'm a black female, but I did recognize via the history books in our schools that I wasn't represented )the same way as other groups )by my race nor sex in our political system. So even if you took the parents out of the equation the children would understand. Hell when the repeated the Clark experiment, and little black girls ( and boys) still prefer the white doll...shocking and sad!
PiNkY-PiNk PiNkY-PiNk 8 years
I agree jude c. this is so sad. I never thought it was illegal but I never thought it would happen in my lifetime either. I hope this year brings change.
Mykie7 Mykie7 8 years
I think this points to EXACTLY why parents SHOULD discuss some aspect of politics with their kids. Too often parents feel that very young children (Let's say 10 and younger for the sake of argument) don't understand politics, and as such don't really talk to them about what is going on. I think this is a mistake, because our kids are the nations future. Your son could be the future state senator. Her daughter could be a future president. It's a mistake to think that they can't understand SOME of what is going on. I'm not saying that all the dirty details need to be given to them (Bill Clinton's affair, GW's drug use etc) but the basics of what is going on. I know a 10 year old boy that is more interested than his 17 year old brother. That excites me. It's great when kids get involved and know what is going on in their home country.
tiabia tiabia 8 years
One in four participants told researchers they thought it was "illegal for women and minorities to hold the office of president." One of the saddest things I have read in a while :-(
True-Song True-Song 8 years
Oops, posted on the wrong thread. I am out of it this morning!
True-Song True-Song 8 years
Oops, my bad, I invented the in schools part in my head. Sorry! But where are you not allowed to have Christmas, then?
Jillness Jillness 8 years
karenpanna, that is TERRIBLE! He is lucky he is retired, or I might to hunt him down. WOW, what a jerk! Especially a teacher!
zeze zeze 8 years
haha...I should clarify that my parents were teasing for the most part (you know the sort of teasing that has a real message no one wants to admit to unless they have to) they knew I wanted to be a lawyer my entire life and encouraged me 1000% when it came to that. I'm sure they would have supported whatever career I decided on, but I'm not naive enough to think the levels of support and money poured into my schooling would change depending on what I decided.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 8 years
GASP!! Zeze, your parents said you couldn't be an art major? How despicable. Mine said I couldn't be Cindy Brady or a little white girl. Boo on them! Then come to find out that hey my mom is multiracial - mostly white European. Liars, 1/16 works both ways. But good advice in a way. I'm not a struggling artist but a frustrated artist and my parents encouraged my artistic endeavors. FOOLS both of them fools. ;-P WACKDOODLES STUPID OPINION ON THIS TOPICS - Other have said "Children are smarter than we give them credit for being". I don't think children are quote/unquote smarter than we give them create for I think they are very open and free in their thought processes, very intuitive creatures (right or wrong) and highly perceptive to the world around them. (I've meet and met plenty of stupid children daily.) Children first learn in a non-verbal world. They see but cannot verbally communicate or understand verbal communicate for sometime. So they watch those around them for visual cues of how to act or what's expected. Example - when my first nephew was an infant 5 to 6 months old he would sneeze and if someone looked at him with down turned eyebrows and hyper-concern he took that as a cue to cry. If we were around when he sneezed and smiled or laughed he relaxed and didn't cry. We did the same when he was learning to walk. When he stumbled - no frowns or body language to indicate that we were upset- instead a smile and encouragment to try again. When he was safely in either of our arms we would check him over for injuries but all the while smiling with our eyes and mouths. We learned that, it wasn't what we said or how we said it, it was the non-verbal cues he picked up on. If children perceive that people of different colors are treated differently because of their skin color then whether they're told or not- their minds perceive that this difference in how people behave vs what they say to do. And since children tend to think in black and white terms, absolutes then someone is lying and not being black and white truthful and more than likely its the words that are untrue and the body language of the person telling the child the adults true feelings on the matter. Once children became verbal, thinking more independent beings they hear one thing but may see something entirely different and either through the lessons taught by their parents or by their culture and world. Children learn that what is said and what is actually done are very different and often contradict each other and are morally wrong or ambiguous, leaving the child to make up his or her own mind because they realize their authority figure is saying one thing but doing the opposite. "Do as I say, not as I do". The first lesson children learn from authority figures. ramblerambleramble...
Jude-C Jude-C 8 years
"I wonder who kids support Obama or McCain, I would wager Obama" My fiance was having a conversation with his 5-year-old (very bright) niece, and asked her who she wanted to vote for. Without batting an eyelash, she said, "OBAMA!" Cute. Cute, cute, cute.
karenpanna karenpanna 8 years
I used to want to be president when I was a kid, but then I got really jaded by my 10th govt & econ teacher who ruined politics for me. He told me that women weren't emotionally fit to be president. Talk about crushing ones dreams. Thankfully that old rat retired not long after that.
zeze zeze 8 years
Limiting your kid isn't always bad. My parents have always told me I can't be a prostitute, drug dealer, or art major. (I am serious about the last one - they paid for college, so my dad said he was like a patron, I must paint the degree to his liking or else become a starving artist - he then reiterated that the art example is just an analogy I and I should not think this means I can get a degree in painting and then paint him pictures he likes))
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
Yeah - I had a dad who was the same way. He explained it that he was just trying to be realistic. :oy:
Frank-y-Ava Frank-y-Ava 8 years
I hear you Dave, I've actually known a few friends whose parents told them what they couldn't do. I thought that was completely insane. Why would you limit your own child.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
Such as Everyone should be involved in spreading the word, not just men, for starters. That you can't "do" anything to gain or earn a way into heaven, it can only be given to you through Jesus. I could go on, but do you really want to listen to me preach? :)
True-Song True-Song 8 years
What the Bible actually teaches? Such as?
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
Some religions aren't steeped in old cospiracies and reluctant to move back to what the Bible actually teaches, instead of relying on someone elses interpretation. :)
janneth janneth 8 years
Some religions are just more progressive!
janneth janneth 8 years
Good answer!!!
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
But she can be a pastor, which is the same thing, right?
janneth janneth 8 years
Once I told a little girl she could be anything she wanted to be when she grew up. She replied, nah ah, I can't be a priest.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
"One in four participants told researchers they thought it was "illegal for women and minorities to hold the office of president" I wonder how much of that these kids are getting from their parents? Are their parents telling them that they can be anything, or telling they can't?
lolalu lolalu 8 years
Wow, this is so sad. Unfortunately I don't think these things will change until there are women and minorities in the most powerful positions in government.
Frank-y-Ava Frank-y-Ava 8 years
@ Keke I know what you mean, I think it's because Obama's younger and has a nice smile. McCain looks scary sometimes and his smile seems a bit forced, he just seems like he's really serious. But who knows, only God right?
zeze zeze 8 years
I wonder who kids support Obama or McCain, I would wager Obama - my little sisters LOVE Obama, I don't know why...and most of my friends' kids are the same way, even the ones with families that are non-political or McCain supporters.
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