Astudy released on Tuesday finds that adults tend to think Black girls need less protection than White girls because they seem older and less innocent, ABC News reports.
“This new evidence of what we call the ‘adultification’ of Black girls may help explain why Black girls in America are disciplined much more often and more severely than White girls – across our schools and in our juvenile justice system,” Rebecca Epstein, lead author of the report, said in a statement.
Georgetown Law’s Center on Poverty and Inequality published the Study, titled “Girl Interrupted: The Erasure of Black Girls’ Childhood.” The findings are based on surveys of 325 adults of various racial and ethnic backgrounds and education attainment from across the United States.
Researchers found that adults believe Black girls are more knowledgeable about sex and other adult topics than White girls of the same age. The perceived disparity is greater at the childhood and early teenage years. The perceived gap in adult savviness narrows at ages 15-19.
“These findings show that pervasive stereotypes of Black women as hypersexualized and combative are reaching into our schools and playgrounds and helping rob Black girls of the protections other children enjoy,” coauthor Jamilia Blake, an associate professor at Texas A&M University, said in the statement.
ABC News reported that Department of Education data from 2014 found that Black girls are suspended at higher rates than girls of any other race or most boys.
With this new data in hand, the researchers issued a call to lawmakers and advocates to reform policies that unfairly punish Black girls in the education and juvenile justice systems.