Interview of Child
It was a fine Saturday afternoon when I invited my neighbor’s eleven-year-old son to my home. I normally visit my home in the countryside when on vacation. During his stay at my place, I started posing the interview questions that I had prepared for the boy. To make it easy for the boy to express himself, I broke up the interview into meaningful subsections, everyone with a short introduction, intermingling the face-to-face interviews with other forms of engagements such as requesting the boy to draw an image pertinent to the issue, making use of dolls in some games, or employing different writing activities. The boy hails from a single parent family. His grandfather was brought in the US as a slave from Kenya and married a Native American woman where they got a daughter, who is the boy’s mother. He is a fourth-grade student at a public school in the US. The boy is irritable and fussy and has low self-esteem since African Americans in the region face racial discrimination, and her mother is usually in and out of jail for no justifiable reason (Gopnik and Wellman 1085). However, he is always the top in his class, and this could result in a better future.
In the course of the interview, I realized that the boy is in the concrete operational stage of development. This is the third phase in Piaget’s theory of cognitive development and marks the level of childhood typified by the generation of logical deliberation; it starts about 7 years of age and proceeds up to when a child is roughly 11 years old (Huitt and Hummel, 2003). I recognized that the boy had a good comprehension of psychological operations as he could logically mull over concrete events such as slavery and racism, but had a poor comprehension of abstract perceptions. The boy is normally controlled by affective-perceptual practices based on the dread of the unfamiliar and connection to the well-known. Perceptual practices consequently predominate, the inclination to the (analogous) pack and the rebuff of the (dissimilar) outgroups being established mainly by physical aspects (for example, skin color). The impact of the progress in the cognitive processes is that the boy was progressively capable of comprehending the personal instead of the group-anchored attributes of individuals (Kail 67-70).
The boy’s initial fear of strange persons, for being from a racial minority group, has broadened to every white individual via the practice of generalization. That is, his fear has developed into disgust and abhorrence, which are the crucial results of discrimination and its persistence (Overton 77-82). He is persistently pushing his mother to accept homeschooling instead of his attending school where he is discriminated against by the white students and teachers. Homeschooling has become common in the US, demonstrating a rise amid African American children. The boy affirmed that even her mother questions the attitudes and approaches of the white teachers (who constitute about eighty-five percent of the educators in public schools). He consistently depicted white teachers as excessively critical, impassive, incompetent, insensitive, unpleasant, hypocritical, and stated that they employ double standards. In fact, he declared that the majority of white educators appear to take into the school the numerous racialists typecasts and approaches that have been established in them, especially the ideas that the black people are not intellectual and are notoriously indolent and inclined towards criminality (Doise, Mugny, James, Emler, and Mackie 93-95).
From the period that he began enrolling in preschool at the age of 3 years, the boy affirmed that he has been suspended unreasonably, which has made him develop poor social skills and substance abuse. The apparent racism envisages subsequent mental suffering and drug use (Carey and Gelman 56-57). The insights of racism in the boy are linked to decreased psychological welfare and the enhanced possibility of engaging in risky conducts as he confessed that he was considering joining a gang group for his security. He asserted that even a ten-year-old boy is usually not deemed a child. Cruel punishment at school has turned into one of the crucial approaches through which the school-to-jail functions, forcing a huge number of African American children out of school into the criminal justice system to give food to the jail industrial complex that has flourished with years (Huitt and Hummel 78-84).
From the interview, I determined that early childhood could be a vital and sensitive phase when stressors, for example, racism, influence an individual’s lasting interests. Such stressors negatively influence the manner in which brain develops and generates neural associations amid dissimilar regions (Carey and Gelman 56-57). Studies imply that the moment a young child, such as the interviewed boy, who has built up cognitive proficiencies, is exposed to racism, they might perceive their racial group unconstructively, turn out to be insecure, and attain low sense of worth and indications of despair. For instance, a black child’s encounters of racial discrimination could result in their augmented negative sentiments and relations with their peers that are involved in deviant conducts later in life (Huitt and Hummel 78-80).
Amid the critical insights from the interview is that frequent experience of intense racism could result in physical and mental illness with time. An individual’s wellbeing could be influenced by numerous social structures such as education and the judicial system (Carey and Gelman 56-57). It is evident that racial discrimination results in education and housing segregation, which may restrict the victim’s, such as the boy’s, social skills and, finally, their chance of employment and access to health. Due to the existing racial discrimination the African Americans have minimal job opportunities, increased imprisonment, illness, and underemployment. Consequently, the African Americans suffer a shorter profession and retirement period and ultimately a shorter life expectancy when judged against an individual that does not experience racial discrimination (Huitt and Hummel 78-84).
From my interactions with the boy, I experienced the effect of racism on children development, which leads to poverty, substance abuse, involvement in crime, poor social cohesion, and unconstructive social climate. Unconstructive social climate, particularly the dread of oppression, was linked to the boy’s indications of depression and anxiousness. If the conditions of the boy are not timely addressed, the developmental challenges could lead him to engage in gang violence or rot in drug abuse in his future (Huitt and Hummel 78-84). More inclusive actions are required to eliminate racial discrimination against African Americans for the benefit of the development of the children and the welfare of the group. I would have liked to know the manner in which the boy’s mother grew up in the same society and the impact it had on her development.
Carey, Susan, and Rochel Gelman. The epigenesis of mind: Essays on biology and cognition. New York: Psychology Press, 2014. Print.
Doise, Willem, Gabriel Mugny, Sherman James, Nicholas Emler, and Douglas Mackie. The social development of the intellect. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier, 2013. Print.
Gopnik, Alison, and Henry Wellman. “Reconstructing constructivism: Causal models, Bayesian learning mechanisms, and the theory theory.” Psychological bulletin 138.6 (2012): 1085.
Huitt, William, and Jennifer Hummel. “Piaget’s theory of cognitive development.” Educational psychology interactive 3.2 (2003): 78-84.
Kail, Robert. Children and their development. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Higher Ed, 2015. Print.
Overton, Willis. The relationship between social and cognitive development. New York: Psychology Press, 2013. Print.