How Negative Labeling Can Be Combated Among Juveniles
Stereotyping, discrimination, labeling and bias have been an ever disturbing factor in our society. This problem takes root not in just one single individual but in the whole society. This concept is created due to ones feeling of superiority over another. The real question is that what causes that feeling of superiority. According to George Herbert Mead (1913) a person’s personality is developed by the people one meets and the environment one is brought up in. The parents are mostly to blame for a child that misbehaves or is rude. But to point the finger entirely at the parents for a child that shows bias towards others will be unfair. Factors such as media, the company a child keeps, schooling etc. also aids a person develop some characteristics.
After identifying the factors that formulates a bias in a child, its response to combat it necessary. The most logical way is a step by step process. The stepwise list and explanation is given below.
1) Identify If A Labeling Is Positive Or Negative
According to some critics (and some elders), labeling is detrimental for the victim even if it is positive. Even though the word labeling itself is negative; I still go by the differentiation between positive and negative labeling. Therefore the child show be observed and analyzed if he/she is involved in positive or negative labeling.
2) Find The Root Cause Of Negative Labeling
As mentioned above, labeling and bias comes from many factors including the media, parents, friends etc. For a concerned elder, identification of this will lead to the root and eventually to the solution. The usual causes include the mix of these factors while the television and video games often are regarded as huge factors in molding a child’s personality (Norcia, 2003). Words being used in video games for the characters like redheads, blacks, etc develop this habit amongst children to repeat them when a person with similar characteristics is seen. Thus a child who spends a lot of time playing these videogames is more likely to get a hang of these labels and use them in public.
3) Restrict Access To Detrimental Content
Once a concerned elder has identified the causes of a child’s habit of labeling, it is time to either confront the child to drop this habit or to be more subtle and slowly remove the detrimental content from a child’s reach. Both methods have their own benefits and drawbacks. While a head on confrontation would make a child aware that negative labeling is a terrible thing to do, most juveniles would not understand and retain this warning for long. Further confrontations may just create a fear in a child and while solving the problem of labeling it would also make a child fearful to freely talk in public with the fear that he/she might say something that would be regarded as labeling. On the other hand, taking a subtle approach might not be effective at all and in worse case scenario, it might be even more damaging. For example if a parent restricts a child from watching foul language movies or play games that are known for labeling, the human inquisitive and curious nature in a child would want to watch or play it with even more intent. This is a fact that we have seen with pornographic materials; the more you hide it, the more interesting it gets for a child (Peter, 2007). On a positive note, a subtle approach may not be noticed by a child and slowly but surely the personality of a child would become positive. However to completely change a child’s labeling habit, a hybrid of approaches should be used. Both the subtle and confrontational approach along with educating a child with positive words and good company is important in shaping a juvenile’s life as a person when he/she grows older.
1) George Herbert Mead (1913). The Social Self. Journal of Philosophy, Psychology, and Scientific Methods, 10, 374-380.
2) Norcia, A. (2003). The Impact of Video Games on Children. Retrieved June 05, 2008, from Palo Alto Medical Foundation: http://www.pamf.org/preteen/parents/videogames.html
3) Peter, T. A. (2007, April 11). Internet filters block porn, but not savvy kids. Retrieved june 05, 2008, from The Christian Science Monitor: http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0411/p13s02-lihc.html