Sesame: 42% of kids have experienced discrimination

The Workshop surveyed kids ages six to 11 in June 2020 and then again in January 2021 to measure their changing perspectives on racism.
June 11, 2021

Nearly nine in 10 kids believe that people of different races aren’t treated fairly, according to a new study from Sesame Workshop.

“Coming Together: Family Reflections on Racism” was designed to elevate the voices of kids ages six to 11 (and their parents) at a time when conversations around race and racism have focused almost exclusively on adults. Nearly 150 kids and parents were surveyed, first in June 2020, and then again in January 2021. The kids were asked five open-ended questions about their hopes and fears, which they answered through writing and drawings (pictured). And then with their parents, they were asked questions specifically about racism.

Sesame saw significant differences in how children from different racial backgrounds responded to the prompts, according to chief strategy officer and EVP of research and ventures Tanya Haider.

Nearly half of the kids surveyed (42%) said they have personally experienced some form of discrimination. This number was significantly higher (62%) for Black children. Approximately one-third of the kids reported having experienced discrimination based on their race or ethnicity.

In June 2020, kids reported feeling sad (25%) and scared (16%) following the worldwide protests against racism. By January 2021, children still felt sad (11%) and scared (3%), but increasingly felt hopeful (14%) looking back on the protests.

By January 2021, parents reported that their kids had developed a deeper understanding of racism than they had in June 2020. The majority of parents said they were comfortable being the primary source of information about race and racism for their children (with books, school and media following close behind).

Sesame’s “Coming Together” campaign is a long-term effort designed to provide families with the tools they need to build racial literacy. Earlier this year, the company launched an “ABCs of Racial Literacy” content package as part of this initiative, featuring original music, a series of documentaries, YouTube content and social media resources for parents.

Other recent programs to address racial justice include The Power of We: A Sesame Street Special and CNN townhall Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism.

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