Curbing Our Explicit Bias and Implicit Bias

The way we view the world affects the way we view and treat the people in it. As a reader of this blog, I know that you will strive to treat everyone with respect, regardless of their culture, background, socioeconomic group, sexuality, or gender. But learning about how our biases influence us can help us to get more skilled at treating all people with respect. Let’s talk about two kinds of bias: explicit and implicit.

Explicit Bias 

Explicit bias is the bias we have toward certain groups of people at a conscious level. These are beliefs that you’re aware you have. Explicit biases will often take the form of stereotyping other people.

Stereotypes are inaccurate, simplistic generalizations about a group or category of people. Stereotypes allow others to shallowly categorize people and treat them in certain ways based on generalized expectations.

In other words, stereotyping people is not good. And the less we know about someone or a group of people, the more likely we are to let stereotypical views drive our imaginations. If, in reflecting on the way you treat the people around you, you find that you have some explicit biases, a great way to curb those notions is to get to know individuals with the backgrounds or affiliations you are biased against. You’ll quickly learn that your stereotypical assumptions do not apply to everyone in that group. People of all kinds are just people, for good and for bad.

Implicit Bias 

Certainly, you may be thinking that you’d never stereotype someone based on their race, nationality, gender, or sexuality. We all strive to be good people, and we think that “good people” don’t do things like that. But it’s not that simple. Because we live in a society with structures in place that reinforce racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia, people can hold biased views without meaning to, or even realizing that they’re being influenced by bias. This is known as implicit bias.

The National Center for Cultural Competence explains this type of bias:

Implicit or unconscious bias operates outside of the person’s awareness and can be in direct contradiction to a person’s espoused beliefs and values.

Kinds of Implicit Bias 

Implicit biases start to form in children at a very early age in reaction to the attitudes of people around them, media, and the direct and indirect messages they get from authority figures. When children live in a country with structural racist, sexist, classist, homophobic, and transphobic attitudes, it’s very hard for them to not subconsciously absorb some of those attitudes. Most children may not even realize how their biases are presenting themselves! 

Implicit bias can take the form of:

  • Affinity bias: Affinity bias is the unconscious preference for people who are similar to yourself.
  • Confirmation bias: When you cherry-pick examples to confirm stereotypical beliefs you hold about a person or group of people. Confirmation bias drives people to remember or notice examples of things that confirm their beliefs, but not examples that challenge those beliefs.
  • Microaggressions: Microaggressions are the small-but-exhausting everyday slights and snubs that people in marginalized groups face from people in culturally dominant groups. These can seem “innocent,” but when repeated, cause the people experiencing them to feel targeted with a reduced sense of belonging.

Curbing Implicit Bias 

No matter what their race, ethnicity, gender, or sexuality is, it’s likely that children of all ages have implicit biases. The Confident Life Program© is designed to help young children identify and unlearn their biases. In the meantime, please share these three things children may do right now to fight implicit bias:

  • Listen to other people. If someone tells you a word you’re using is hurtful or something you’ve done is not okay, don’t get defensive. Instead, listen to what that person is telling you, give a genuine apology, and accept that you’ve got some learning to do.
  • Focus on the impact, not the intent. It feels bad to know you’ve done something hurtful. It’s natural to want to explain that you didn’t mean to affect someone negatively. But the issue isn’t your intent, it’s the impact you’ve had on someone around you. Focus on reducing harm as a young peacemaker, not on explaining your intentions.
  • Pay attention to your thoughts and actions. You can learn to notice your biases by paying close attention to how you behave. Did you treat two classmates of different races differently? How and why? Start noticing these things and you can figure out what actions to take to change your behavior.

It’s important to understand that unlearning internal bias isn’t about you or your child feeling guilty or bad. It’s about learning how to treat other people better. That’s not just good for the world, it’s good for you, your family and your community!

You and your children can begin by:

  • Embracing other people’s differences: Welcome new people (classmates/neighbors/employees) and their unique experiences with open arms!
  • Being sensitive to someone else’s needs and feelings: If you notice something you’ve said rubs someone the wrong way, or they look uncomfortable in a certain setting, be ready and open to change.
  • Holding positive regard for other people you meet: Approach each new classmate like they are a friend you haven’t met yet.

Don’t allow assumptions and stereotypes to control your reactions. Instead, listen actively and adapt your communication style to the other’s cultural context. At the same time, show respect and positive regard through your manners.

And lastly, invite your children and grandchildren to attend multicultural events in your community to learn many different cultures. Experience their foods, traditions, clothing, dances and history. We all have a purpose and the sooner we realize this, the sooner we can raise more peacemakers in the world.

JOIN THE MTA CLUB

Want to participate all year and be the first to learn about our new developments? Join the MTA Club by registering to donate each month through our website. Click the link and then check the box to Make this a monthly donation. For a limited time, MTA Club membership is open to any monthly amount of $10 or more.

Making an Impact on Children’s Lives

Children Continue to Harm Themselves

We have much work to do because the current situation for many children is quite dismal. Despite all the amazing antibullying programs that have been implemented, why are our children and grandchildren still suffering? Why are bullying incidents causing so many children to despise themselves and fail to thrive?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, pediatric suicide rates have increased significantly in the U.S., nearly tripling between 2007 and 2017 among children ages 10 to 14 years. Roughly 157,000 individuals between the ages of 10 and 24 receive emergency medical care for intentional self-inflicted injuries.

According to the National Bullying Prevention Center, bullying can start as early as preschool and peak in third grade. The problems our children face with bullying can become life-threatening and the stigma attached to being a victim can be extremely hard to overcome for many individuals.

Recent Tragedies & Lawsuits

Gabriel was 8 years old in 2017 when he hanged himself with a necktie in his Cincinnati home. His family subsequently won a $3 million federal lawsuit against the district, the school’s principal, assistant principal, and a school nurse.

After Diego Stolz, 13, was bullied to death in 2019, his family sued the California middle school. The lawsuit was just settled in September 2023 for $27 million.

In 2020, an 18-year-old girl won a $1 million lawsuit against her former middle school in ElSegundo, California, for failing to protect her from bullies.

In 2021, an elementary school parent filed a $1 million lawsuit against a school district in Santa Clarita, California, alleging the district failed to properly address a multiyear issue of bullying involving his sons.

Bullying in schools is not only a moral and ethical issue but also a legal and financial one. School districts have a duty to protect the rights and well-being of their students and to prevent and respond to bullying effectively. By doing so, they can avoid costly and damaging lawsuits and create a safer and more positive learning environment for everyone.

Confident Life Program is Designed to Help Students Thrive

We are now in a crisis of bullying, and the best way to handle this problem is by introducing a new curriculum to children during their formative years. Just like learning a new language, young children can absorb the critical lessons of inclusion, empathy, fair play, bullying awareness, and more, with the Confident Life™ Program.

We are very excited that the pilot program will begin later this month at one of the Cooperative Charter Schools in the San Diego Unified School District! The antibullying program for K-3rd grade students is a 9-week program designed to reduce and prevent bullying for students and to help them thrive through their adolescent years.

Already winning the prestigious Family Seal of Approval Award for Innovation in Curriculum by the Child Safety Network®, this program is applauded by teachers and child psychologists. It has been noted that the characters in this storytelling-style curriculum are very lovable and relatable. But one of the best features of this program, according to school representatives, is how detailed and simple the program is for teachers to administer to their K-3 rd grade
students.

We are all looking forward to the results from the pilot program and are also looking for two more primary schools interested in receiving the pilot program. Interested schools should contact Motivated To Act CEO, Stephen Tako at Stephen@MotivatedToAct.org for more details.

How You Can Help Save Lives

National Day of Giving is Tuesday, November 28, 2023! We are also asking companies & individuals to consider supporting Motivated To Act as their Year-End Charity Recipient. We need your financial support for several important projects.

1) Production of anti-bullying Public Service Announcements, relatable to children
2) Supply backpacks with school supplies to underserved children
3) Provide the Confident Life™ Program to schools in underserved communities

We are in a race against time with children needing our services and programs. There is no time to wait when it comes to saving lives and your support is needed and appreciated. Volunteer opportunities are also available.

Join the MTA CLub

Want to participate all year and be the first to learn about our new developments? Join the MTA Club by registering to donate each month through our website. Click the link and then check the box to Make this a monthly donation. For a limited time, MTA Club membership is open to any monthly amount of $10 or more.