Children haven’t made the headlines in recent days, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t been impacted by what they have seen in their neighborhoods and on TV. Over the last week, many children watched a Black man plea for his life under the knee of a police officer. They saw familiar buildings burn to the ground. They heard a steady stream of sirens, helicopters and breaking news.
The Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (MNAAP) recognizes that racism and violence create unsafe and unstable environments for children and must be addressed on a variety of levels.
Racism is a social determinant of health, pure and simple. It may or may not be blatant. Often it takes the shape of a system or set of opportunities that create an unfair disadvantage to certain individuals or communities.
In Minnesota, more than 20 percent of American Indian, Black and Asian children live in areas of poverty. Infant mortality rates among Black and American Indian babies are more than double the rates of white babies. And only half of American Indian students graduate high school on time.
Racism and violence undermine the safe and supportive environments that all children need to thrive.
MNAAP will continue to advocate for policies and practices that improve the health and wellbeing of minority children. No child should fall victim to poor health, education or socioeconomic outcomes because of their skin color.
If you are wondering what else you can do, here are our suggestions:
Read up on racism and disparities:
- MPR: What Does it Mean to be Black in Minnesota?
- AAP Policy Statement on Racism
- “The Talk,” Physician Version: Special Considerations for African American, Male Adolescents
- Anti-racism Resources for White People
- Local reports: Minnesota Health Care Disparities 2019 Report | Minnesota Kids Count 2019
Encourage families to talk with their children about these recent events:
- Talking with Children About Police Brutality
- Coloring Pages: Here, Here, and Here
- Book: Read Aloud on YouTube ‘Something Happened in Our Town’
- Podcast: Raising Free People
- Helping Kids Process Violence, Trauma, and Race in a World of Nonstop News panel discussion hosted by Common Sense Media
Encourage families and children to play:
- Play is a buffer for toxic stress and is critical for children’s growth and development. Families can download a printable Play at Home Playbookthat features games with little to no equipment.