The majority of U.S. children—a staggering 86%—believe that people of different races are not treated fairly in this country. In a study conducted by Sesame Workshop, the educational nonprofit behind Sesame Street,, many children also said they’ve personally witnessed or experienced unfair treatment due to discrimination and racism.
The Coming Together: Family Reflections on Racism study was conducted so we can collectively understand how children specifically were impacted by George Floyd’s death and the ongoing fight for civil rights amid the reckoning with racism that followed last summer.
The study was designed to capture and elevate the voices of children ages 6-11 as well as their parents.
Sesame Workshop surveyed 147 families across 35 states with children from ages 6 to 11 to collect data for the study. According to Sesame Workshop, children were first asked general, open-ended questions about their hopes, fears and the world around them; they were able to respond using drawings, writing, photos or videos. The questions intentionally did not mention racism or protests so researchers were able to gauge how prominent the issues were for the children. Then, parents and children both answered questions explicitly addressing race and racism
The study was conducted in two rounds: once in June 2020 and again in January 2021, to see how the kids’ views may have changed. In the second round, parents reported that they felt more comfortable talking about race with their kids and that they believed their children had a deeper understanding of racism than they had in the first round.
Other key findings in the study include:
- Children have not only witnessed unfair treatment but close to half of these children (42%) have personally experienced discrimination of some kind, including nearly two-thirds (62%) of Black children (reported by their parent).
- Approximately one-third of these children have experienced discrimination specifically relating to their race/ethnicity.
- Parents responding to Wave 2 in January 2021 believe that their children have a deeper understanding of racism than they did last summer.
- Parents also report that their children more deeply understand how real and how wrong racism is and that people can do and say things to help those who are treated unfairly.
- The majority of parents were comfortable being the primary source of information teaching their children about race and racism, followed closely by books, school, and media, yet only 22% of parents report that specific resources helped them prepare for discussions with their children.
Listen, Act, Unite! These are the things that we do when something that we see is not right! #ComingTogether https://t.co/t6Ue1XQQRr
— Sesame Street (@sesamestreet)
“Our study found that parents are having conversations around race and racism, some with even greater frequency than they did last summer,” said Courtney Wong Chin, Director, Content Research & Evaluation, Sesame Workshop. “They want to be the ones teaching their children about the issue but are also comfortable with their children learning from other sources like trusted media. As learning about racism becomes more universal and parents’ confidence grows, Sesame Workshop aims to provide them with tools that can support them in this effort.”
Coming Together: Family Reflections on Racism findings will inform new Sesame Workshop content for years to come, and we should all be grateful for this type of invaluable work—for our children, and for the future.