As thousands of children start school for the first time this week, a new study by the Institute for Social and Economic Research finds family experience of racial prejudice could be linked to poor outcomes for children as young as five.
The UK’s first ever study of the impact of racist abuse on families finds that by the age of five, their children are more likely to struggle with cognitive tests and face more socio-emotional problems than their peers.
One in five ethnic minority mothers in the UK has experienced racist abuse and the impact on their children is evident by the time they start school, according to a new study by Professor Yvonne Kelly at the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex. The study, ‘Associations between Maternal Experiences of Racism and Early Child Health and Development: Findings from the Millennium Cohort Study’funded by the Economic Social Research Council, found that family experience of racial prejudice could be linked to poor outcomes for children as young as five.
Professor Kelly commented:
“Our findings suggest experienced racism or feeling fearful about racist victimisation might impact on what parents allow their children to do, and constrain their capacity to provide the conditions to foster healthy child development.”
“Living in an area where racist attacks are perceived to be common may lead to children spending less time outside the home environment that might otherwise be the case, thus limiting the breadth and interactions and experiences with others outside the home setting. This may be further compounded by the impact of poor parental mental health, linked to experienced racism and discrimination, which is in turn likely to lead to non-favourable parent-child interactions and parenting behaviours. These influences combine to negatively impact on socio-emotional as well as cognitive behaviour.”
The study is the first in the UK to look at the evidence of the impact of racism on the health and development of children. Academic in the USA have already established links between racism and health outcomes.