We have enough of a problem in this society with people not treating children like children. Kids are often expected to behave as adults, which completely unreasonable because they do not have adult brains. Forcing kids to grow up fast because adults refuse to try and remember what it's like to be a kid is incredibly damaging to them.
And as per usual, black kids have it worse.
Black Girls Are Viewed as Less Innocent and More Adultlike Than White Girls: Study
This goes beyond just treating kids like adults.
The study found that survey participants believe that black girls need less nurturing, need less protection, need to be supported and comforted less, are more independent, know more about adult topics and know more about sex. These results have far-reaching implications and can be a contributing factor to the disproportionate rates of punitive treatment in the education and juvenile-justice systems for black girls.
As an example, in the education system, black girls may receive harsher punishment by educators and school resource officers, and being perceived as not needing nurturing, protection and support means that black girls may lose out on leadership and mentorship opportunities in school.
This is so disgusting. And heartbreaking. All the things listed - nurturing, protection, support, comfort - are the things that young children need most. The younger they are, the more they need it, and the more they're psychologically damaged if they don't get it. They may be fine being raised by their parents (though if one of their parents is white, that honestly could still cause problems), but once they enter the education system at about age FIVE, fuck. And these days, people are starting their kids in school, in pre-school, in pre-pre-school, younger and younger to try and give them a leg up in an increasingly harsh and competitive world (as the rich hoard more and more resources). Putting the expectation on these girls that they act like adults or are more like adults than other kids is stealing their childhood from them, and that's fucking terrible.
I kind of wish I had gone into education or childcare so I could try to give black girls as much attention as possible. I should really look into mentorship programs, particularly for young writers. Or maybe it's better for me to pay for a black person to mentor a black child. If that's a thing.
We white people need need NEED to think about how we interact with children of color. Even if it's just in passing in a grocery store. One thing I do is try to be polite to children, especially children of color, by saying "excuse me" and "thank you" if I'm trying to get past them or I'm in their way. Treat them like they're human, smile, be sweet to them. They deserve it.