Adultification is the idea that girls are older and more responsible than they are and can lead to less protection and support, and more harsh punishment.
Black girls are often targeted by teachers, law enforcement officials and even parents who view them as less innocent and more adult-like than their white peers. This perspective often categorizes black girls as disruptive and malicious for age-appropriate behaviors. The implications of this bias can have lasting and damaging effects on Black girls and it is imperative that educators who have a commitment to fair treatment of all students be well acquainted with the implications of adultification and are not found to be guilty of it.
Jamilia Blake, Ph.D., a psychologist and associate professor at Texas A&M University who co-authored the 2019 report “Listening to Black Women and Girls: Lived Experiences of Adultification Bias” and its precursor, the 2017 study “Girlhood Interrupted: The Erasure of Black Girls’ Childhood,” said adultification impacts Black girls early in life and the way others perceive Black girls gets worse with age. For these reasons, MSKSI has a Personal Development Mentoring Program that addresses the specific needs of Black girls who are dealing with adultification bias early in life, and providing a safe space where they can feel seen and heard, without judgement or negative perceptions.
It’s important that we allow them to experience childhood and its related benefits for as long as possible. We owe it to Black girls to challenge the obstacles in their way.