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I'm Just a Kid

Updated: Oct 13, 2021

Hey O4E-ers!!

I hope you all are having a fun a safe summer. I wanted to take a second to thank you all for your support of Oneonta for Equality. This has been a tumultuous year for various reasons --being full of ups and downs. As an organization we are proud that we still found a way to come together as a community.

Oneonta for Equality was created by alumni who see the ability to give this generation a more equitable education. Although we want to hold our educators and community leaders accountable, we do not discredit the wonderful leadership Oneonta has to offer. I want to give a special thank you to the educators and leaders from our community who have stepped up and tackled these hard but necessary conversations with our organization and in the community at large.

O4E writes a quarterly blog to share our board’s personal experiences with our members. For my personal blog post, I will be unpacking the topic of adultification. I personally experienced this all throughout my adolescence, and can say the same for some of my BIPOC peers. Everyone's experiences are different, but I find mine to still affect me to this day.

Adultification bias is a form of racial prejudice where children [of minority groups] are treated as being more mature than they actually are by an unreasonable social standard of development. Simply, teachers and other authority figures due to their unconscious biases may have an emotionally inappropriate response or outlook on a child's behavior, which can lead to trauma and stunt emotional development. Some examples of adultification can be; stricter and harsher punishments/ criminalization of black children, sexualization/implying women and girls must be appropriately dressed to avoid being a distraction or bring the “wrong kind of attention”, telling outspoken black children that they are too loud or aggressive and the list goes on…..

As I reflect on my childhood, I can say that many of my first experiences with this form of bias came from at a Catholic school. While attending this school; I was often harshly punished, removed from the classroom, and had even had an administrator physically reprimand me. I will admit that I was a handful as a child, but not much more than other kids my age. “I was a good kid… I was a good kid… “A mantra I now often repeat to my inner child. An ode to myself that I was not the problem, society and the way it looks at black children is.

Adultified children often miss out on the conventional childhood. This is due to the fact that from a young age, they are expected to deal with adult responsibilities and/or consequences. A good example of this can be seen in older siblings who are required to care for their younger siblings. A child who is seen as an adult due to their family structure or financial situation. This can have a negative effect on the child turned adult. In the later stages of their adolescence and the early stages of their adulthood, victims of adultification may cope with their trauma by catching up on missed “traditional” milestones. For instance, for some this could be serial dating in unhealthy relationships. The child turned adult may struggle with trusting others making it harder to forge healthy relationships with others. Substance abuse, anxiety and depression are also common in adultified children turned adults.

It is a tragedy when a child’s vulnerabilities aren't taken into consideration. As adults, we owe children a safe space to speak and exist. Although adultification can be discussed on a broader spectrum, I think this should be a reminder to adults just how confusing the world can be. It is our job as leaders and guardians to guide our children and protect their innocence.

If you have seen our previous trainings, you will know that we often talk about how to train our brain to unlearn bias and stereotypes. Please check into our website and let us know if you want to hear more about adultification!!

“See the world through the eyes of your inner child.

The eyes that sparkle in awe and amazement as they see love, magic and mystery in the most ordinary things.” — Henna Sohail

Lauren Bailey

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