Black girls are perceived as stoic, in need of less nurturing and knowing more about sexual relations than white girls, according to the results of a new study.
Detailed in the report “Girl Interrupted: The Erasure of Black Girls’ Childhood,” published by Georgetown Law’s Center on Poverty and Inequality on Tuesday, the study found that adults view Black girls as more adult-like than their white peers, especially in the age range of 5–14.
The authors of the report are Rebecca Epstein, the executive director of the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality; Jamilia J. Blake, associate professor at Texas A&M University; and Thalia González, associate professor at Occidental College.
“What we found is that adults see Black girls as less innocent and less in need of protection as white girls of the same age,” said Epstein, the lead author.
“This new evidence of what we call the ‘adultification’ of Black girls may help explain why Black girls in America are disciplined much more often and more severely than white girls — across our schools and in our juvenile justice system.”
For the study, a total of 325 adults from across the country were recruited through an online service. Participants were predominantly white (74 percent), 51 and female (62 percent). Thirty-nine percent were 25–34 years old.
“Information regarding respondents’ occupations was not assessed, but sixty-nine percent held a degree beyond a high school diploma,” state the authors.
They were not informed of the survey’s purpose but were asked to complete a nine-item questionnaire online about their perceptions of the current development of young girls.
- How often do Black [or white] females take on adult responsibilities?
- How much do Black [or white] females seem older than their age?
- How much do Black [or white] females need to be supported?
- How much do Black [or white] females need to be comforted?
- How independent are Black [or white] females?
- How knowledgeable are Black [or white] females about sex?
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