Black Girls ‘Criminalized’ By Stereotypes, Bias

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Black girls are being criminalized at alarming rates, reports USA Today. They are hobbled by negative stereotypes that stretch back to slavery and by educators, counselors, caseworkers and judges who fail to address their trauma and emotional needs. School discipline policies push black girls out of school and punish them more often and more harshly than their white peers. Monique Morris, author of “Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools” and president of National Black Women’s Justice Institute, says, “We see this criminalization of black girl joy that leads to them feeling as if they are culpable even if they are not.” African-American girls don’t misbehave more or commit more serious infractions, experts say, yet they often receive more severe penalties for the same behavior as whites. They are nearly six times more likely to get out-of-school suspension than white counterparts and more likely to be suspended multiple times than any other gender or race of students.

They are “adultified” at a young age, says Georgetown Law’s Center on Poverty and Inequality, which found black girls face both racial and gender bias that feeds the misconception that they are more insubordinate and aggressive and less in need of nurturing and protection. The Council of State Governments Justice Center concluded that black girls are at greater risk of dropping out or being held back, which leads to a three-fold increase in the chances of becoming entangled in the juvenile justice system, and later, in the adult system. The problem extends beyond the prejudice of an individual teacher or the personal bias of a school police officer, says Francine Sherman of the Juvenile Rights Advocacy Project at Boston College Law School. Black girls make up 14 percent of the population but 33 percent of the girls in juvenile detention.

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