Babies start being racist from the age of just six months, according to new scientific research.
Academics at the University of Toronto say kids show racial bias towards their own race long before they can talk – and suggested taking action to “prevent racial biases from happening.”
The news came in the form of two studies at the university’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE).
The first analyzed how toddlers reacted to pictures of people with different race while listening to happy or sad music.
It concluded that “after six months of age, infants begin to associate own-race faces with happy music and other-race faces with sad music.”
In the second study, OISE researchers looked at how six-month-old babies pick up social cues from other adults and analyzed whether the race plays a role.
It found that babies are more likely to pick up social cues from adults of their own race from members of other races.
“Infants are biased to follow the social cues of own-race individuals over other-race adults under situations of uncertainty,” the study said.
In both studies, toddlers younger than six months of age didn’t show racial bias.
According to the OISE, these two studies “show that six- to nine-month-old infants demonstrate racial bias in favour of members of their own race and racial bias against those of other races.”
Dr. Kang Lee, a leading researcher at the institute, said the results show action needs to be taken against racism even earlier than previously assumed.
He said: “If we can pinpoint the starting point of racial bias, which we may have done here, we can start to find ways to prevent racial biases from happening.”
There have already been attempts at fighting the perceived racial bias among children. In Seattle, an anti-racism preschool will open this fall, which aims to eradicate pre-existing biases from students.
One teacher said: “When we’re telling stories to our kids, especially about people of color, we want to make sure that we’re showing them stories about people of color that aren’t just about people existing in the past.”