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Schools as Change Agents in Reducing Bias and Discrimination: Shaping Behaviors and Attitudes

Abstract

Objective

To describe the issues associated with heightened levels of discriminatory behaviors and their effects on children and youth. We then describe efforts to ameliorate discriminatory behaviors at the school level, placing emphasis on practices that can be implemented within current school initiatives.

Method

We employed a thematic review approach to examine the effects of discriminatory behaviors on children and youth, as well as on school-based practices employed to redress such behaviors.

Results

Schools can act as change agents to curb the negative experiences youth have with discrimination, hateful speech and actions, and harassment. Many schools are successfully addressing these issues through their use of positive behavioral interventions and supports, social and emotional learning programs, bullying prevention programs, and interventions, which are designed to positively influence discriminatory behaviors and biased attitudes.

Conclusion

Schools should address issues like harassment, bullying, racism, and discrimination through the use of programs or interventions designed to reduce them, in order to provide more equitable schooling experiences and more equitable educational outcomes for all.

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Correspondence to Robin Ennis.

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Losinski, M., Ennis, R., Katsiyannis, A. et al. Schools as Change Agents in Reducing Bias and Discrimination: Shaping Behaviors and Attitudes. J Child Fam Stud 28, 2718–2726 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-019-01452-2

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Keywords

  • Discrimination
  • Bigotry
  • Prejudice
  • Public schools