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Prejudices ‒ the deliberate denigration of other people because they belong to a particular group – are extremely powerful. They give certainty in uncertain times, boost self-esteem, substantiate claims to a higher status, and suggest that others are inherently less entitled to a good, fulfilling life (vom Orde). Prejudices quickly become racism, which is always associated with discrimination and harm to others. Prejudices stir up strong emotions such as hate, the emotion that can override behavioural norms, turning people into perpetrators of violence and allowing democratic principles to be forgotten (Zick). Racism can be further promoted by media, constantly re-enacting the same old stereotypes (Eckhardt Rodriguez, Dill-Shackleford). Children and adolescents in particular learn through media and the stories media tell, encountering other everyday cultures and getting to know different perspectives and the diversity of the world through media. Media products designed with this in mind can counter prejudices, denigration and racism, and increase tolerance (Fisch).
To counter prejudices and racism, however, it is not enough to be aware of and to value the diversity of our society. One of the aims of prevention must always be to provide age-appropriate teaching on the basic principles of denigration and the consequences of discrimination, racism and extremism, e. g., through children’s news (Mörchen). Particularly for children and adolescents growing up in Germany, this cannot happen without an examination of the Nazi period and the Holocaust (Neckel, Götz/Holler).
Educating young people about racism and extremism and their consequences is a topic that has to start at primary school. The challenge here is to place children’s existing fragments of knowledge in a context that makes sense, and to preserve their inherent openness towards the diversity of the world. Young people need knowledge and media literacy in order to resist the stealthy and increasingly prevalent recruitment strategies of extremist organizations (Reinemann/Riesmeyer, Holler). What quality media can offer them is background knowledge and arguments which will enable them to oppose the racist and extremist statements circulating in the public discourse.
Head of the International Central Institute for Youth and Educational Television
“We underestimate the power and force of prejudices”
Children’s knowledge about the terms “Muslim”, “Jew”, “Roma” and “gipsy”
Children’s television is primarily white
Storytelling makes a difference
What German children know about the Second World War
Maya Götz/Andrea Holler
How children understand the programme Kids of Courage
Carsten Reinemann/Claudia Riesmeyer
How adolescents come into contact with extremism
Promoting inclusion and tolerance through a children’s TV show?
Heike vom Orde
Prejudices: development, influencing factors and prevention
Ana Eckhardt Rodriguez
The Black gangster and the Latino cleaning lady
Kids of Courage
Recognising extremism on the internet
Marieke van Oostrum
The Black Piet
logo! – define, differentiate and contextualise