B73 - Childrens attitudes and experiences of race racism inter-relationships - 01/08/2002

B number: 
Principal applicant name: 
Prof Alan Emond (University of Bristol, UK)
Dr Amy Hawkins (University of Bristol, UK)
Title of project: 
Children's attitudes and experiences of race, racism & inter-relationships.
Proposal summary: 


Statistics suggest that race and experiences of racial discrimination have an important impact upon almost every aspect of children's lives, affecting their emotional, social and cultural well-being, as well as physical and mental health. These issues also have an impact upon both academic attainment and employment prospects, and in turn with the transition into adulthood (Greater London Authority, 2007).

In England and Wales, health inequalities attributable to ethnicity and social deprivation are reflected in epidemiological data and infant mortality statistics (Davey-Smith et al, 2000; Office for National Statistics; Hessol et al, 2005). One study has shown a higher rate of admission to paediatric intensive care for children from certain ethnic minority backgrounds (most notably South Asian children, with a 36% higher admission rate compared with Caucasian children) (Parslow et al, 2009).

However, there are limited published data exploring childrens' racial attitudes and experiences, particularly from the UK. One recent study has suggested that implicit maternal beliefs regarding race are a significant predictor of a child's racial attitudes (Castelli et al, 2009). Several studies have suggested that the degree of inter-racial mixing decreases with advancing age (Virdee et al, 1999; Pitts et al, 2000).

Research from the United States has suggested that children from ethnically homogenous schools tend to evaluate ethnic minority peers more critically and are less likely to form friendships with these children than with other children of a similar racial background (McGlothlin et al, 2006).


To assess the attitudes and experiences of race and inter-racial relationships amongst children aged 12 years.


  1. To analyse the attitudes of young people towards race and racism.
  2. To assess the nature of inter-racial relationships amongst children at school and in the community.
  3. To ascertain children's experiences of racial bullying and discrimination.
  4. To analyse the ways in which experiences of inter-racial relationships differ according to ethnicity, gender and social class.
  5. To explore the impact of race and inter-racial relationships upon a child's social, cultural and emotional well-being.


A written questionnaire survey of approximately 10,000 ALSPAC children aged 12 years was used to assess attitudes to race and racism. In consultation with the funders (NSPCC) and in collaboration with Prof Tariq Modood, a series of questions were developed on racial attitudes, drawing on questions used in previous surveys of young people in the UK. Predominantly closed questions were used to assess responses, and the questions were included in the 'All around me' questionnaire completed by 12 year olds in 2003-5.

These data have yet to be analysed, so initial analysis will be univariate and descriptive. Associations will be explored between racial identity, gender, friendship groups, bullying and school context.

Exposure and outcome variables

The exposure measured in this study is the questionnaire answers relating to racial attitudes and experiences.

The primary outcome variable is the experience of bulling and racism. Secondary outcome variables are self-esteem, impact upon personal identity and self-categorisation of ethnicity, mental health problems including anxiety and depression, physical health, friendships, academic achievement and employment prospects.

Confounding factors

Confounding factors are likely to include maternal and paternal age, attitudes of parents or guardians, sibling attitudes and behaviour, social class, poverty, disability, ethnicity, religion, nature of residence in the UK (whether temporary or permanent), gender, schooling (including whether private, grammar or state school), and ethnic composition of the school the child attends and local community in which they live.


Greater London Authority. The State of London's Children Report. 2007. Accessed at http://www.legacy.london.gov.uk/mayor/children/docs/solc-main-2007.rtf. Last accessed 22/02/11.

Davey-Smith G, Chaturvedi N, Harding S et al. Ethnic inequalities in health: a review of the epidemiological evidence. Critical Public Health. 2000; 10: 375-408.

Office for National Statistics. Infant mortality by ethnic group, England and Wales. Series DH3 no.36. London: Office for National Statistics, 2005. Accessed from http://www.statistics.gov.uk/statbase/Product.asp?vlnk=15111&Pos=1&ColRa...

Last accessed 22/02/11.

Hessol NA, Fuentes-Afflick E. Ethnic differences in neonatal and postneonatal mortality. Pediatrics. 2005; 115: 44-51.

Parslow RC, Tasker RC, Draper ES et al. Epidemiology of critically ill children in England and Wales: incidence, mortality, deprivation and ethnicity. Archives of Disease in Childhood. 2009; 94: 210-15.

Castelli L, Zogmaister C and Tomelleri. The transmission of racial attitudes within the family. Developmental Psychology. 2009; 42 (2): 586-591.

Virdee S, Modood T, Newburn T et al. Understanding racial harassment in schools. Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. University of Strathclyde and Bristol. 1999. Accessed at http://www.regard.ac.uk.

Pitts J, Marlow A, Porteous D et al. Inter-group and inter-racial violence and the victimisation of school students in a London neighbourhood. Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, Violence Research Programme. University of Luton. 2000. Accessed at http://www.regard.ac.uk.

McGlothlin H, Killen M. Intergroup attitudes of European American children attending ethnically homogenous schools. Child Development. 2006; 77 (5): 1375-86.

Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 1 August, 2002
Date proposal approved: 
Thursday, 1 August, 2002
Social Science, Stress, Social Conditions
Primary keyword: