KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- Racism in our world is sadly nothing new, but it affects children in some very profound ways.
The impact is so profound, the American Academy of Pediatrics has released a policy statement on the topic. They hope it will help children in the future.
According to the study, racism can have a detrimental effect on children before they are even born.
The American Academy of Pediatrics hopes taking a few simple steps in the doctor’s office will help our most innocent avoid the most negative of outcomes.
Lashaye Brooks says being discriminated against, whether overtly or inadvertently, is a part of life.
“I experience it a lot but sometimes you just got to walk away,” Brooks said. “I mean because there’s no need to retaliate that’s not going to get us anywhere.”
Developing coping strategies to handle racism starts early for many.
“It’s a socially transmitted disease,” said Dr. Scott Dattel, a pediatrician of 21 years. “The big thing about it is when children see negativity out there and they internalize that negativity they start feeling bad about themselves and that can really affect their health.”
Racism can have an effect on everything from maternal mortality to low birth weight in babies whose mothers don’t have access to the best prenatal care.
Some of the new guidelines for pediatricians include everything from making their practice a safe place to talk about feelings to having culturally diverse toys and books in the waiting room.
Even small changes can make a big difference in the mental and physical well-being of children.
“Genetically we’re all the same, and the thing about it is socially this is 100% social thing,” Dattel said. “It’s spread and it spread to generation to generation and it’s important that we start nipping that in the bud now.”
Jason Chen and Sue Kim have been good friends since childhood. They each graduated from high school in Johnson County and say despite the fact they were both born here and speak perfect English, they were forced to take English as a second language in school.
“I remember clearly like back then I felt like I was treated different because my parents were Asian, I was Asian,” Jason Chen said.
It’s something that still baffles them both, something they say is a perfect example of systematic racism.
“I moved from the Missouri side to Kansas,” Kim said. “Lee Summit to Shawnee in eighth grade. Even then they had me take an English test which doesn’t make sense!”
“Just because your parents are immigrants, they just assume that you need special treatment,” Chen said. “Which is fine, but I think it like separates you from other kids that they pulled us aside to teach us English.”
Virginia Delatorre is the daughter of a migrant worker. She herself worked the fields as a child and is now an accountant in Kansas City, Kansas.
Delatorre intentionally pulled her children out of their predominantly Hispanic school and moved them across town, so they’d be exposed to different cultures and backgrounds. While she says she doesn’t feel like she experiences racism herself she takes precautions for her family, most recently during a road trip from Texas back to the metro.
“I usually won’t stop in the really small country stores because I’ve seen that look before,” Delatorre said. “I don’t want them to experience it and I don’t want to experience it.”
It is these things whether small or pronounced that children see, children feel, and children are affected by.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is hoping small changes will eventually help lead us to big changes that are better for all children.
“It’s ingrained in society and we need to start going to a higher intellectual place in my opinion and realize that everybody is the same,” Dattel said.