Improving Intergroup Relations Among Youth
As many times as it has been said, it is no less true: the future of America lies with its young people. It is essential to give them every opportunity to excel, to dream and realize those dreams, and to live full and healthy lives, enriched with stable and meaningful relationships. A particular challenge is to prepare them for an increasingly diverse society and to build a tradition of tolerance, acceptance, and respect for others.
Forty years after the beginning of the civil rights movement, the nation continues to be divided along lines of race and ethnicity. Still far from Martin Luther King's dream of an integrated nation, we are, in many ways, “A Country of Strangers,” as the title of journalist David K. Shipler 's book on race in America suggests (Shipler, 1998). Prejudice still persists, whether it is expressed in words or actions that at times can range from subtle to violent. The patterns of prejudice and discrimination that persist will exact a large economic and social toll in terms of both the number of minority group members affected and the loss of their potential contribution to society (Schofield, 1995). Early in life, children learn that race is important, and it influences how they see the world and how the world sees them (Brawarsky, 1996).
The study of interethnic and interracial interactions and relationships among youth, also called intergroup relations, has become a critical, complex, and challenging field in recent years. America's changing demographic profile has forced a redefinition of the dynamics of diversity. According to the Census Bureau, in 1980 whites accounted for 74 percent of all children
in the United States, but the proportion has steadily decreased since and this trend is expected to continue through the year 2050. Blacks, who constituted the largest minority population prior to 1997, are now slightly outnumbered by Hispanic children (each accounting for nearly 15 percent of the total child population). By the year 2020, it is estimated that more than one in five U.S. children will be Hispanic, and the Asian American population is expected to increase from 4 to 6 percent by the year 2020 (Bureau of the Census, 1996). Immigration is also expected to fuel the growing diversity of the U.S. population during the coming decades. Moreover, an increasing percentage of the population is biracial or multiracial. With this increasing diversity, many individuals no longer neatly fit into the categories that have been traditionally used to define race and ethnicity in this country (Schofield, 1995).
It is also important to note that the total number of young people in the United States is also increasing, thus further heightening the need to find new ways to promote peaceful, respectful relations among them. For example, population estimates suggest that the number of adolescents in the United States will continue to increase during the next several decades, from nearly 36 million adolescents ages 10 to 19 in 1993, to 43 million in 2020 (Bureau of the Census, 1996).
As the nation becomes more varied in terms of the cultural, ethnic, and racial backgrounds of its citizens, this diversity is reflected in the student bodies of many public schools, where youth from a wide variety of backgrounds come together. The relationships among young people, as they interact in schools and in the community, are complex and have repercussions on many aspects of their school experiences, as well as their futures. In fact, research has shown that it is in school that children frequently have their first relatively close and extended opportunity for contact with those from different racial or ethnic backgrounds. Hence, whether hostility and stereotyping grow or diminish may be critically influenced by the particular experiences children have there.
Most Americans would agree that growing diversity in America should be accompanied by increased interaction, understanding, and the promise of building a society of greater humanity and peace. But anecdotal evidence suggests an alarming increase in adolescent hate crimes, organized hate groups, and overt expressions of racial intolerance, and many young people (and older ones as well) have come to hold negative views about people and groups from different backgrounds. It is therefore essential to study ways to reduce these negative forces, to find ways to build bridges
among people that create an atmosphere of respect, and to create peaceful environments in which all young people can achieve their potential and not feel that, because of their language, skin color, or cultural background, they have any less claim on the American dream.
Although a substantial amount of research on relations among people of different backgrounds was conducted in the late 1960s and the 1970s, most of this work slowed down in the 1980s due in part to a shift in funding priorities. A large proportion of the research on intergroup relations from the 1960s and the 1970s focused exclusively on relations between whites and blacks. Although work on black-white relations is still relevant and extremely important, recent demographic changes make it equally important to understand relations among a much wider variety of groups, including those among different minority groups. As Schofield suggests, even if demographic change had not occurred, earlier research would be outdated because of the substantial shifts in racial attitudes that have occurred during the past 20 years on the part of both majority and minority group members. According to Schofield and workshop participants, the current literature needs to be updated and expanded (Schofield, 1989).
Against the background of an increasingly diverse America, as well as a rich body of research that spans decades but that largely stopped in 1980s, the Workshop on Research to Improve Intergroup Relations Among Youth convened an interdisciplinary group of researchers, representatives from federal and state governmental agencies, foundations, national and international organizations, and educators to examine early findings from 16 research projects funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The lead researchers, all university-based, presented their observations, thoughts, findings, and suggestions for ongoing research. The studies differed in context and methodology, and some involved community and school-based interventions. Most of the studies were conducted in states with great diversity, including California, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas.
Participants discussed their program experiences and research findings and the policy implications of this and related research, including areas in which additional research is needed. They were invited to touch on such questions as: What theoretical frameworks drive the development and implementation of intervention programs? What intervention strategies have been employed and how have they been evaluated? From these early findings, is it possible to distill for whom and under what conditions these interventions are more or less effective? What research and practice gaps
remain? What efforts are required to promote positive intergroup relations among youth in the next decade and beyond?
Half of the 16 projects discussed at the workshop conducted research to examine the effectiveness of interventions designed to influence the existing dynamics in multicultural settings, and the other half focused on the impact of child and adolescent development, as well as institutional transitions, on intergroup relations. The studies probed not only relations among members of majority and minority groups, but also relations among members of different minority groups. Several studies emphasized interventions intended to prevent violence and interracial and interethnic conflict among youth. Most of the studies centered on ways to prevent or reduce prejudice among middle school and high school age youth, but several studies examined younger children. A description of each research project appears in Appendix A.
Vivien Stewart, chair of the Education Division of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, explained in her presentation that this subject has been a long-standing interest of the foundation. Through a grant program totaling $2.1 million, the aim of the foundation was to strengthen the knowledge base regarding intergroup relations, to generate models that might be replicated in other schools and communities, and to stimulate additional research interest as well as spark a new generation of scholarship. It was the foundation's hope that this activity would move these issues to a place of prominence on the national agenda, inspiring new federal research funding. According to Stewart, “until now, many programs have been based more on good intentions than on serious research.”
In preparation for the workshop, the researchers were asked to present the following information about their project:
the overall goal, study hypotheses, and methods used to conduct the research;
key findings; and
programmatic and policy implications of the work.
They were also asked to provide background papers describing their research in advance of the workshop; these materials were distributed to help facilitate discussion at the workshop.
The workshop was an effort intended to take stock of current knowledge on intergroup relations, highlighting key findings from recent research.
It was also convened to help inform the future work of a new, cross-cutting initiative of the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council called the Forum on Adolescence. Given limitations of both time and scope, however, the workshop could not address a variety of issues that are certainly very important when considering how to improve intergroup relations among youth. For example, this group neither defined nor discussed diversity beyond ethnic/racial differences —such as differences in values, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, and ability.
It is important to note that this summary report has a number of limitations. First, it does not provide a comprehensive synthesis of the research findings of the 16 projects, nor does it provide a full discussion of either the successes or the problems of each project; the workshop considered each project very briefly, using a standard format. Workshop participants were given a general format for their presentations—they were asked to present the aims of the study, describe methods used, and report the major findings. Almost all chose to highlight their successes, rather than problems they may have encountered in implementing their projects or nonsignificant or negative findings. As a consequence, the workshop may have had an underlying bias in favor of “good news.”
Second, the studies did not specifically address the duration of the changes that resulted from the interventions implemented in each project. In addition, the projects were funded as two-year projects, and most were not complete at the time of the workshop. This report therefore does not speak to the long-term changes observed or accomplished as a result of the interventions.
Third, at the time of the workshop, the projects were at various stages—some had requested extensions, some had just been completed, and some had received additional funding from other sources to continue the work. Consequently, participants did not discuss any lessons learned from the projects at the workshop, although this report includes a research agenda for the future.
Finally, this report is limited to a summary of presentations at the workshop, reflecting the views and statements of those attending, and does not provide a definitive analysis of the state of intergroup relations in America or the range and rich body of research on this important topic. It therefore does not provide a policy statement. Rather, it is a report based on research findings and related observations on the subject of intergroup relations as covered at the meeting.
THIS RICH AND GROWING DIVERSITY
President Clinton has written: “As we approach the 21st century, America is once again a nation of new promise, with the opportunity to become the world's first truly multiracial, multiethnic democracy. In as few as 50 years, there may be no majority race in our nation. This rich and growing diversity should be a source of great pride and strength as we enter the new millennium” (Council of Economic Advisers, 1998).
“Must children grow up to be hateful?” David Hamburg, chair of the workshop, chair of the Forum on Adolescence, and former president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, asked the assembled workshop participants. “Education, through the family, schools, media, and community organizations, can be successfully turned into a force to reduce intergroup conflict. But the question is, how can we as humans develop a more constructive orientation toward those outside our own group while maintaining the values, the very considerable values, of primary group allegiance and firm identity?”
The tendency toward ethnocentrism—the belief in the superiority of one's own ethnic group—that is seen across the world is a natural orientation that seems to be rooted in the ancient past, according to Hamburg. Individuals seem to have a tendency to favor their own group and to regard their own community in a positive manner. Workshop participant Margaret Beale Spencer of the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania pointed out a critical paradox associated with ethnocentrism: although it gets in the way of understanding among peoples of different backgrounds, some degree of ethnocentrism “seems necessary as a kind of glue to hold a particular society together.” But when ethnocentrism prevents bridge building between cultures, it becomes maladaptive and destructive. “From ethnocentrism to racism can be a very short step,” Spencer observed.
Gordon Allport has argued in his book “The Nature of Prejudice” that human groups tend to stay apart. Allport notes that this tendency “is adequately explained by the principles of ease, least effort, congeniality and pride in one's own culture” (Allport, 1954). Some researchers have also argued that given the reality of a multicultural U.S. population, one has to understand that group differences are indeed a reality and could potentially be a major source of strength for the society as a whole.
Although there is no clear agreement among researchers and policy makers about whether the development of friendships between individuals
of different backgrounds ought to be a high priority, there's little disagreement that stereotyping and antagonism between groups are great and lasting costs to the well-being of society, and that individuals from diverse backgrounds need to be able to interact effectively with each other in their work and civic life.
As the world in which children and youth live has changed in terms of technology and increasing diversity, new knowledge has been gained with important implications for the task of improving intergroup relations. Workshop participants agreed, for example, that the assumption is simply untrue that merely bringing people into contact with each other will necessarily lead to mutual understanding and respect. The conditions under which contact occurs are important. The contexts in which interactions occur, attitudes develop, feelings are expressed are a critical influence on those attitudes and on the ensuing behavior (Schofield, 1995). The contact hypothesis, originally proposed after World War II by Gordon Allport and others, emphasizes four major variables for positive benefit: cooperative interaction, equal status among participants, individualized contact, and individualized support for the contact (Stephan and Stephan, 1996). Researchers have since added other, broader variables that influence whether contact leads to positive results: societal factors, which include the structure of society, the historical and current relations between the groups that are in contact; the cultural background of the groups involved; and personal factors, which include demographic characteristics, personality traits and prejudices, stereotypes, and other beliefs (Stephan and Stephan, 1996).
Researchers are developing fuller understandings of how intergroup relations can be manifested differently by boys and girls, by children at different developmental stages, and by members of different racial and ethnic groups; the latter can also vary according to which group is considered the majority or mainstream group in a particular setting. Researchers are also increasingly aware of what is called the “tension factor,” which has several dimensions: specific behaviors that generate tension may differ according to the setting and the groups involved; the way both negative and positive attitudes are expressed may vary; and interventions that are helpful in some situations won't work in others (Schofield, 1989).
As Alex Stepick of Florida International University explained, there has been a shift in perceptions of Americanization, with many newcomers becoming assimilated as “hyphenated” Americans (for example, Haitian-American, Cuban-American) rather than simply as either American or as Hispanic. As large numbers of immigrants continue to arrive in the United
States, their assimilation is going to mirror the styles and culture of their peers with whom they have greatest contact—which may or may not reflect the mainstream white culture. For adolescents, Stepick observed, American culture quickly dominates immigrant ethnic roots and, in the face of prejudice, adolescents from immigrant families may assimilate rapidly, but not necessarily to mainstream white American ways. Rather they assimilate to ethnic American ways. As they assimilate, Stepick noted, they gain acceptance from their ethnic American peers and avoid discriminatory treatment. In what he calls “the context of their youth culture,” they have earned the right to be part of the local society.
THE MEANING OF POSITIVE INTERGROUP RELATIONS
Although the term “positive intergroup relations” among youth is used frequently, there is no consensus among researchers as to its precise meaning. For example, to some, it means peaceful, nonviolent relations in school and outside, a kind of tolerance and coexistence; to others, it refers to something beyond tolerance that includes understanding and promoting genuine connections among groups. It could also be perceived to mean the ability of young people to look at one another and clearly see just the individuals before them. This perspective, also known as the “colorblind perspective,” has been defined as a point of view that sees racial and ethnic group membership as irrelevant to the ways in which individuals should treat each other. Although this perspective is at times espoused as a goal in such arenas as schools, and it is consistent with a long-standing American emphasis on the importance of individuality, Schofield argues that it is not without some subtle problems (Schofield, 1998). She suggests that it can foster an atmosphere in which race is never mentioned and intergroup tensions are not recognized, creating an environment in which people who are basically well intentioned act in discriminatory ways.
In addition, community leaders may have different notions than scientists about what is meant by “getting along,” and those notions may be related to the economic and political structure of the community as well as to its history. Workshop participants agreed that not only is it important for researchers, community leaders, school principals, and teachers to develop a common understanding of positive intergroup relations, but it also is essential to hear from young people in particular about how they understand and experience race, ethnicity, culture, and general race relations. There was considerable discussion at the workshop regarding the impor-
tance of having a clear definition of what it is that can and should be improved, as well as an idea of what an improvement might look like. Without such agreement, it is hard for all interested parties to have a meaningful discussion about issues related to the design and measurement of programs intended to improve intergroup relations.
Workshop participants agreed that there is often a disconnect between the concerns of youth and adult perceptions of their concerns; adults sometimes misread situations of conflict between youth. As Stepick noted, for young people, most conflicts with their peers are about issues of friendship and perceived betrayal, relationships, and cliques; young people worry mainly about what other young people think of them and about being accepted. Adults, for their part, may worry about the consequences of young people's behavior with respect to their future productivity. In multiracial, multiethnic settings, conflicts may appear to be about intergroup differences, but they are often about issues among friends. It is also important to point out, however, that issues that surface among friends who happen to come from different backgrounds can also be perceived by others, and even eventually by themselves, as being racially or ethnically motivated.
It is also not clear how intergroup relations relate to academic achievement and other developmental outcomes. The very phrase “academic achievement” has several meanings: to some students, parents, and school administrators, it may imply good grades and the motivation to go on to higher education; to others, it may mean simply staying in school. Some researchers have indicated that cooperative learning methods have had positive effects on academic achievement for students from varied ethnic and racial backgrounds in a variety of subject areas (Slavin, 1995). The positive effects were especially salient for methods that emphasized “group goals and individual accountability, in which cooperating groups are recognized based on the individual learning performances of all group members” (Slavin, 1995).
Another important point was brought up at the workshop: although positive intergroup relations may have the potential to build bridges between groups and reduce tensions, failed efforts to bring people together can have the opposite effect, intensifying tensions, heightening conflicts, and reinforcing stereotypes. For example, Stepick referred to an incident that took place after a Haitian dance performance at a football pep rally, in which the terms “boat people” and “Haitian” became epithets among students in a Miami school. Several factors subsequently contributed to im-
provement of the situation: the public school system took an active interest in increasing students' cultural awareness, and the population of the school shifted from a minority to a majority of Haitian students.
“We appear to experience diversity as inequality in this country,” said Spencer, keynote speaker at the workshop. Numerous workshop participants also pointed out the “institutional silence” about race and racism and spoke of the urgent need to engage members of the community, school superintendents, school board members, principals, teachers, parents, and young people in meaningful discussions about the issue in a safe and open environment. Those who feel affirmed in their own identity are more likely to be respectful toward others.
YOUTH AND IDENTITY FORMATION
A complex web of factors affects the development of children's identity and racial attitudes, which encompasses both environmental influences and cognitive and psychosocial stages. For example, workshop participants noted, although children are born blind to distinctions of race, racial awareness starts as early as 3 years of age. The first influences on a child's identity formation—how the child comes to see himself or herself as a member of one or several racial, ethnic, cultural, and religious groups—occurs at home and in the context of family. Most significant at the earliest stages are parents and their values, specifically how they deal with issues of race, in deeds and in words. Also important is the community in which the child lives, and the messages the child encounters; later on, peers, teachers, school officials, and community leaders have significant influence.
Margaret Beale Spencer, who has long been involved in research on the development of racial attitudes, explained that racial awareness begins as early as age 3, with racial identity developing between the ages of 5 and 7. She observed that preschool children from most ethnic backgrounds often express preference for the majority white group and negative bias toward minority groups, even their own. For example, black preschoolers often express “white-valuing” attitudes, but at the same time maintain positive self-regard. For these same children at about age 6, their own race begins to have more relevance in terms of their identity, and they begin to express attitudes favoring their own group membership. At the same age, white children exhibit less bias, although their attitudes are more Eurocentric in nature. Spencer noted that the exceptions to this are families in which the parents are active and responsive, and incorporate into family life the learn-
ing and understanding of different cultures. She stressed that the earlier that children begin to receive positive messages about their own race, the more self-confident they will feel when confronted by racial stereotypes and biases. It's also important to expose children at a young age to “culturally pluralistic values,” which Spencer defined as values encouraging positive racial attitudes about one's own group and respect toward others. These values need to be reinforced in all areas of a child's life —home, school, and community. During the early years, it is also important for parents to help their children establish self-accepting cultural values, so they are able to use their school experiences to focus on building skills and learning rather than struggling to cope with racial issues.
As further discussed by Spencer, children become more capable of perceiving and understanding stereotypes during the preadolescent years, with advancing cognitive development, physiological changes, and broadening social networks. Many young people are particularly self-conscious at this age as they feel their way in the world, and race consciousness is an additional level of growing self-awareness. Especially for minority youth, there is heightened awareness of race, biases, and their status in an ethnic minority group. Guidance and support from adults are as important at this stage as in the early childhood years. In general, young people may seem resilient, but they are actually quite vulnerable, particularly in middle adolescence; this may be especially true for adolescents from ethnic/racial minority groups. As a coping mechanism, many young people will distance themselves from what they perceive as a hostile school environment if they come up against an insensitive teacher or administrator. Since most teachers have little if any training in how developmental processes unfold for young people from different backgrounds, conflicts often ensue. In general, according to Spencer, there is more voluntary segregation as youth get older, and white children tend to exhibit more bias toward other races than do black children.
Several speakers referred to the unacknowledged privilege of European-American youth. In the context of how society thinks of race and race relations, many white youth do not give a lot of thought to the meaning of their racial group membership, but for minority youth, such thoughts can be ever-present.
Relevant to these general issues, in a study conducted at four schools in Denver, Colorado, workshop participant Phyllis A. Katz and her team of researchers at the Institute of Research on Social Issues found that racial attitudes in young children ages 6 to 9 are quite malleable, and that a
variety of procedures could be used to foster more positive attitudes toward other races. They used perceptual training, which is a strategy intended to increase children's attention to within-race differences and to reduce assumptions that physical similarities or differences imply psychological differences. Another strategy is cognitive training, which is used to increase children's capacity for “sorting faces” along multiple criteria, in an effort to raise their cross-race empathy. These strategies called for short, focused tasks that did ultimately change many aspects of the children's race-related behaviors. These strategies are simple and straightforward and, according to Katz, this intervention could be modified for use in classrooms by teachers.
SCHOOLS AND THEIR INFLUENCE
As noted by several workshop participants, schools matter. It is in schools that young people learn what it means to be part of something larger than their family; for many young people, schools provide their first experiences of extended direct contact with people from backgrounds different from their own. Accordingly, one of the challenges for communities and educators is to create multicultural classrooms in which race and ethnic differences are openly discussed. Ideally, in such an environment, youth of all backgrounds would feel valued, would be encouraged to achieve academic success, and would feel comfortable discussing matters of race and ethnicity in a spirit of candor and trust. This would require, at a minimum, that teachers be well trained to listen and guide them.
School policies and practices can strongly influence intergroup relations. These include tracking, which usually offers differentiated classroom opportunities for students who demonstrate different learning styles or levels of achievement; cooperative learning projects, which can lead to the development of positive relations; extracurricular activities, such as sports and community service; specially designed multicultural curricular materials; and programs like school-wide assemblies. In addition, the overall institutional tone toward promoting intergroup relations can have an influence: some schools are rigid, and others are much more open to new ideas.
According to the contact hypothesis, which underpins much of the research done in the field of intergroup relations, several factors are necessary in order to improve intergroup relations through direct contact with people from different ethnic and racial backgrounds. As mentioned earlier, four factors have been put forth: the interaction must be on a level of equal
status; the activities involved must be cooperative rather than competitive, leading to the achievement of common goals; there must be individualized contact among members of the group; and it must be sanctioned and supported by the institution and by authority figures within the institution. It is important for schools to create these opportunities, which form the starting point for positive intergroup interaction.
On the basis of his research in Miami, Stepick observed that although the main tenets of the contact hypothesis are valid, most schools do not fulfill its qualifications; still, they can strive toward it. He believes that racism cannot be ignored, and trying to ignore it only makes it worse. Rather, he calls on educators to affirm all students' identities and also to recognize the fact that racism does exist and, unchecked, can be divisive. Schools need not choose between having multicultural events, like special celebrations for ethnic holidays, and American cultural events, such as programs for national holidays; they can and should do both. These special activities must be more than “symbolic shadows reluctantly performed” and must be followed up by other activities requiring young people's cooperation. And the activities have to be authentic, as children will recognize anything less than that for what it is.
Hanh Cao Yu of the Social Policy Research Institute discussed her research, which was conducted in six diverse secondary schools in the state of California. She emphasized the importance of schools acknowledging group differences, observing that black students were more often the targets of inconsistent tracking, low ability grouping, disciplinary policies, and general societal discrimination. Strategies she found to be particularly effective at encouraging young people to navigate the different worlds encompassed by their families, peer groups, and school worlds—what Yu refers to as “crossing borders”—include participating in classrooms with a diverse student representation, participating in extracurricular activities in school and in the community, and developing a positive ethnic identity through family. For some students, developing a dual identity—perhaps one identity in school and a different version in the neighborhood—was an effective way to move through different worlds. She spoke of the importance of schools in creating “safe spaces” for young people to explore their feelings and building supportive friendships.
Most of the schools observed by Yu were not passive toward their increasingly diverse student bodies. She and her associates found that school principals, teachers, parents, and students were beginning to be proactive and to challenge traditional policies and practices that could lead to inequi-
table treatment. Yu and her colleagues also noted that there is no single path or strategy for schools to follow to promote positive intergroup relations. Every program that was attempting to improve intergroup relations among young people, in every school, must take into account students' varying needs and levels of readiness to grapple with tough issues.
In a Southern California study headed by Michele Foster of Claremont Graduate University, a sharp contrast emerged among elementary schools in a single district as to how the schools handled intergroup relations among young people from diverse backgrounds, in terms of both the tone set in the schools and classroom activities. Foster found differences between schools that “do diversity,” that is, although they talk about it and hold programs and celebrations, it is not part of the real texture of the school, and those schools that truly embrace diversity, as evidenced by the varied backgrounds of the teaching staff, the number of languages spoken by the staff, and the spirit of respect among groups that seems quite natural. Schools need to do more than showcase multiculturalism. They need to live it in some authentic way beyond the superficial, Foster observed.
The study involved two districts in adjacent towns. Foster found that in both districts, there was more intergroup interaction among boys than girls, and intergroup relations decreased for girls as they got older. One reason is that the boys tended to bond through sports, roughhousing, and teasing each other. Girls, who were less interested in these types of activities, would make friends and bond through nonphysical activities, for example, playing with each other 's hair and sharing clothing—things they were more comfortable doing with children from their own group. There were also differences in terms of discipline in the two districts. In the more affluent district, the black students were more likely to be considered discipline problems. At the other schools, where children were encouraged to work together, they and the teachers were more likely to look beyond race.
Fernando I. Soriano of San Diego State University conducted a study in Northern California examining the relationship between psychosocial and cultural factors as potential mediators of intercultural conflict among a diverse group of high-risk adolescent boys on probation in court schools. The study found a clear relationship between cultural factors like ethnic identity and acculturation, on one hand, and intercultural group attitudes and behavior such as violence, on the other. According to his research, both negative intercultural group attitudes and self-reported behaviors are inversely related to ethnic identity and bicultural self-efficacy. For example, as ethnic pride and identity rise, the likelihood of a youth's being a
violent offender diminishes. Although there were only a small number of participants in this research, Soriano's results suggest that the interventions developed through this study may be effective in reducing intergroup conflict and preventing violence and aggression. He suggested the need for interventions that have several components.
Finally, workshop participants emphasized the fact that schools need leaders. They discussed the tendency for interventions to work best when school officials were supportive and when teachers integrated these types of interventions into the curriculum. In addition, workshop participants emphasized the need to build relationships between researchers and teachers.
THE POWER OF TEACHERS
Teachers have a profound impact on the lives of young people; their influence can be both positive and negative. They are role models, path-finders, arbitrators, peacemakers, interpreters, mentors, promoters of civic ethics, and administrators. In addition, they're responsible for imparting skills, facts, the love of learning. Through their teaching and through their own behavior, they can be the ones who show students respect for ideas and for ways of being different. The best teachers recognize that they themselves are also students, learning from the young people they're teaching.
Workshop participants noted that teachers receive little if any guidance or professional training in how to deal with issues related to the diversity of their students; they have no preparation for facilitating in-depth discussions on race and ethnicity, nor do they learn how to deal with race-related conflicts or how to prepare young people for life in a multiracial society. In fact, many teachers are hesitant to talk about sensitive topics such as race, assuming that conversation will create tensions rather than dispel or avert them. Workshop participants stressed that teachers need advanced training in dealing with students who differ from one another, both culturally and developmentally; they also need antiracist multicultural teaching materials and advice on using them. Learning to promote positive intergroup interaction should be part of every teacher's training.
Studies have shown that teacher training in multicultural education can have a positive impact on teachers' ability to work and interact effectively with ethnically diverse student populations (Stephan, 1999). As part of their study in western Massachusetts, Beverly Daniel Tatum of Mount Holyoke College and Phyllis C. Brown of Lesley College designed a semester-long course for area teachers entitled “Effective Anti-Racist Classroom
Practices for All Students,” in which participants examined their own sense of ethnic and racial identity and their attitudes toward other groups. The researchers presumed that teachers should have a strong sense of their own core identity and be able to engage in ethnic-related discussions with their peers in order to support the positive development of their students' ethnic and racial identities. Among the participating teachers, the research team found shifts in racial awareness and sense of racial identity as well as changes in classroom practice. When teachers are more comfortable talking about racial identity in any context, they respond better to the academic needs of a diverse group. Tatum 's course included discussions of what she refers to as “foundational concepts,” which include prejudice, racism, internalized oppression, and the distinction between passive and active racism. Tatum underlined the importance of increasing teachers' understanding of the student's background, training teachers in effectively discussing issues such as racism and stereotyping, and helping teachers to have high expectations for students of color, including academic achievement.
In her study in California, Michele Foster also found that teachers need assistance in learning to interact positively with parents from a variety of backgrounds. Teachers need to be able to deal with students and parents from all backgrounds and to understand the many dimensions of their racial, ethnic, and cultural identities. And they need to be able to use those backgrounds as resources rather than as explanations for bad behavior.
CURRICULA AS TOOLS
Whether mandated by the state or initiated by the community or the school, developed by professionals, or improvised by the classroom teacher, the curriculum can be a powerful resource in promoting positive inter-group relations; it often provides a systematic approach to helping young people understand, respect, and embrace diversity.
One study showed the potential impact of a challenging curriculum. A research team in Massachusetts led by Dennis J. Barr designed a two-part study using an innovative educational program, “Facing History and Ourselves,” the aim of which is to promote the development of a more humane and informed citizenry. In the course of their involvement, 8th grade students struggled together as they studied human behavior in the light of the Holocaust and other examples of racism and oppression, drawing connections between their own lives and the breakdown of democracy and ensuing genocide. The results suggest that participating students were influ-
enced by the program positively: they became less racist in attitude, less insular about their ethnic identity, and more aware of their responsibility toward each other and also of their own biases. In comparison to nonparticipating students, they showed increases in what Barr refers to as “relationship maturity,” which encompasses increased interpersonal understanding, hypothetical and real-life interpersonal negotiation skills, and more importantly increases in their capacity to reflect on the personal meaning of relationships. The students highlighted the importance of inclusion and belonging and avoiding social isolation and victimization.
In his study probing the nature of prejudice, Ronald G. Slaby of the Education Development Center used “the bystander approach”—i.e., placing middle school students in the third-party role of bystanders to acts of prejudice, rather than in the role of perpetrator or victim. It is an educational strategy, using video as a springboard for discussion, to help people feel comfortable and to begin to understand the other's perspective. Slaby noted that the bystander perspective offers such opportunities as allowing students, from a bystander perspective, to respond to acts of prejudice as equals and without implicit or explicit blame and to view issues of prejudice more objectively, critically, and nondefensively.
SCHOOL-BASED EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES
Often it is outside the classroom walls that some of the most meaningful intergroup interactions occur. School-based extracurricular activities, like clubs and sports groups, can offer safe, meaningful places for young people to find common ground and make friends across racial and ethnic boundaries, by working or playing together in pursuit of common goals. Researchers have suggested that extracurricular activities provide an important social milieu for cooperation by providing each person with an opportunity to make a contribution that will benefit the whole (Schofield, 1995).
One study conducted in Houston used methods proven successful in preventive medicine and public health to change dangerous attitudes and, ultimately, behavior. The project sought to positively influence students' attitudes regarding intergroup relations and reduce intergroup hostility by encouraging them to write and distribute stories through the school newsletter. The stories related to increased tolerance of diversity among the students. In schools with a history of race riots and racial violence, the University of Texas researchers, led by Alfred L. McAlister, found reductions in hostile actions and in victimization through exposure to this kind
of behavioral journalism. McAlister emphasized that in large, diverse communities, efficient communication methods used to influence health behavior can have positive results (see Appendix A for complete project description).
Sports teams provide opportunities for young people from different backgrounds to get to know each other in important ways as fellow team members. As suggested by Patricia Marks Greenfield, lead researcher on a University of California based study of whether sports teams promote racial tolerance and intergroup relations, sports teams have the potential to meet the criteria of equal status contact between majority and minority groups. However, the findings of her study indicate that “sports are not the panacea for intergroup relations that might have been imagined.” Although teams provide opportunities for equal status—and form a natural laboratory for studying intergroup relations in multiethnic settings—they are not a guarantee of peaceful interaction between members of different racial and ethnic groups.
The most important determining factor was the coach—how he or she led the team and the values he or she stood for. The coach's leadership style is an important factor in determining how the team will operate with regard to racial and ethnic differences —whether it functions as a unified group, as a team with a racial hierarchy, or one with a split across racial lines. Also important were the internal dynamics of the team, whether the coach and players emphasized individualistic or collective values, and whether they encouraged or accepted players' self-enhancement or modesty. Among the things that can promote harmony on a multiethnic team are ensuring that the coach treats all members equally and responds to conflict as a group problem in a public manner.
Several of the studies presented at the workshop looked at the role of peers in promoting positive intergroup relations. Peer preference, as well as peer influence, involves such factors as who young people hang out with on the playground and sit with in class, which clubs they join, how they view “border crossing,” and whether they have cross-race friendships and integrated social networks. Children often follow the lead of other children. Their contact with other young people can powerfully affect their skills and abilities to live in a racially and ethnically diverse world.
In a study conducted with elementary school students in an integrated
district near New York City, Diane Hughes of New York University looked at the factors underlying homogeneous peer groups, more specifically, the social and developmental factors related to intergroup relations during middle childhood. As children get older, their sense of self as a member of an ethnic or racial group becomes increasingly salient, and they become more oriented toward their own group. The study had three major findings: white students were more likely to report same-race friendships than black students at any particular time; the shift toward friendships with children of the same race occurred more frequently for white students than for black students; and at any point in time, there is much variation in the children's own reports of same- and different-race friends. Black girls were more likely than black boys to report same-race friendships; Hughes explained that it may be related to boys' greater involvement in sports teams. When children reported feeling more positive toward their own group, they were more likely to associate with same-race peers. And the more they perceived that they were treated unfairly because of racial issues, the more they stayed with friends from their own group.
Looking at two contrasting ethnically diverse middle schools in Texas, Cindy Carlson of the University of Texas, Austin, led a team of researchers in a multimethod study of peer relationship patterns. They found that intergroup relationships improved across the early adolescent years. In particular, the study directed attention to the nature of borders, which arise when certain knowledge, skills, and behavior in one world are more highly valued and rewarded than in another. Of particular importance in determining to what degree students will cross borders is the school environment.
Young people are highly influenced by the attitudes of their peers, both their close friends and the members of the larger cliques or groups they belong to. In the Texas study, ethnic differences played a role: minority youth expressed less openness to diversity than their nonminority counterparts, and non-Hispanic youth had the fewest cross-race best friendships. In this study, having a positive view of one's self and one's own group correlated with having a more positive view of other groups, regardless of ethnicity. The study suggests that interventions should consider the importance of the role of peers in influencing intergroup attitudes; it also suggests the potential importance of peer groups and interventions strongly directed toward group self-esteem. Carlson cautioned that schools need to pay serious attention to whatever group is in the minority.
In an ethnographic study of a school-based program in Buffalo, New
York, Lois Weis of the State University of New York, Buffalo, found that young women, through open discussion on a variety of subjects of shared interest, developed friendships across ethnic and racial borders. Facilitated by professionals in a small group setting, the program, called “My Bottom Line,” was attended voluntarily by teenagers in a magnet arts academy in the public school system; the program's goal was to “prevent or delay the onset of sexual activity, build self-esteem and increase self-sufficiency in young women through an abstinence-based, gender specific education program.” The diverse group of participants used the program to refashion their identities, talking about race, femininity, teenage social issues, sexuality, stereotyping, and other topics, challenging each other and themselves in a safe atmosphere. This study was part of a larger project involving interracial communities, with integrated spaces for youth to interact, in three settings. Weis explained that each setting offered program participants an environment in which differences were acknowledged and respected and interracial relations could grow and be nourished. The researchers stressed that they created settings in which “youth could come together intellectually, aethestically and politically.”
Howard L. Pinderhughes of the University of California, San Francisco, conducted both an intervention and a research project that included survey and qualitative research in a racially diverse high school in San Francisco. At Mission High School, intergroup relations were characterized by coexistence with little tension but a general lack of knowledge about others. Separate communities existed, in other words, organized by racial and ethnic group, language, and immigrant status.
The aim of the project was both to study the state of intergroup relations and to develop an action plan for building closer relations in the school. The intervention involved the creation of the P.R.O.P.S. (People Respecting Other People) program, in which students from a variety of backgrounds were recruited to join; they then conducted survey research and interviews, working both to increase the student body's awareness of their school's ethnic and racial attitudes and relations and to enhance the school's multicultural climate.
Results of the survey indicated that the most tolerant groups of students in the school were young people of mixed racial or ethnic background and Pacific Islander youth. Immigrant youth had more intolerant attitudes than members of their ethnic group who had been in the United States longer. As reported by the researchers, because of changes in the school administration, action plans intended to set the stage for the development
of programs and curricula to enhance cross-cultural awareness and interaction have yet to be instituted. However, the researchers and the young people believe that youth-driven programs have great potential for having a positive impact on intergroup relations. This project underscored the simple idea that young people can be useful resources for improving intergroup relations among their peers.
AT HOME: PARENTS AND THEIR INFLUENCE
Workshop participants agreed that parents are their children's first teachers about intergroup relations. It is at home where young people get their primary information, both implicitly and explicitly, about their own racial and ethnic identity, and where they pick up attitudes about other groups. (Workshop participants also noted parenthetically that sometimes, as young people grow up, the tables may turn and children may teach their parents.) In her New York University study of elementary school students, Hughes confirmed that parents' messages about race are extremely important to the children's developing sense of identity. She found that parents' reports about their own same-and other-race friendships were very important to black youth, less so for white youth.
Tatum's Massachusetts study also included components involving students, teachers, and parents. Parents of middle school students attended a series of meetings to discuss issues related to adolescent identity development and intergroup relations in the school. Through the meetings, parents were encouraged to explore and improve their own intergroup relations as a way of modeling behavior for the students, and some parents served as resources in other components of the program. The researchers found that the parents, as well as the teachers and the youth, benefited from having settings to explore personal attitudes and to reflect on their own and others' attitudes about intergroup relations.
IN THE COMMUNITY
As discussed at the workshop, the community shapes what goes on in the schools in many ways. Constance Flanagan of Pennsylvania State University examined some of the larger issues surrounding intergroup relations, posing the question of what binds Americans together as a people. In her presentation, she quoted President Jimmy Carter 's farewell address in 1981: “America did not invent human rights. In a very real way, it's the
other way around. Human rights invented America. Ours was the first nation in the history of the world to be founded explicitly on such an idea.” Flanagan's study examined young people's perceptions about justice, opportunity, politics, and the responsibilities of citizenship and how their outlook is influenced by the messages sent to them by communities, schools, teachers, and parents.
Through focus groups and surveys of adolescents in four communities in Pennsylvania and Michigan, three urban and one rural, Flanagan and her team found that young people learn a great deal at home about other people's rights, responsibility to others, anger and disrespect to others, values, how the self is linked with notions of public good, and public awareness about prejudice. Students who reported that they have experienced prejudice, or that someone close to them has, are less likely to believe that America is a just society. Their personal experiences are as important as are school and community influences. Young people who felt that their teachers were fair and would intervene in acts of intolerance were more likely to think of America as a just society. In addition, if they felt that the police in their community were fair, they were more likely to think of America as a just society. Although it is unclear in this case whether correlation translates into causation, according to Flanagan, doing community service, which she suggests may correlate positively with a desire to promote intergroup understanding, should be part of children's education. She also cautions against policy directions toward privatizing public education if such efforts further homogenize young people's experience.
THE ROLE OF MEDIA AND TECHNOLOGY
Workshop participants agreed that media can play an important role in a democratic society by providing accurate information so that citizens can make informed decisions. Ruby Takanishi, in her presentation at the workshop, emphasized the myriad changes in the world of technology and the media and the potential positive influence they can have in terms of interpersonal values, behaviors, and relationships over time.
Flanagan's research suggests that opportunities provided by the media that enable young people and adults to discuss current events can help youth see the connections between their own lives and the larger world and may promote intergroup tolerance. Furthermore, Flanagan 's work also suggests that some young people are aware of how the media sometimes use
stereotypes, presenting certain peoples and ethnic groups in stereotypically negative ways, and that they would benefit from opportunities at home and in school to discuss these images.
In the classroom, media can be effective in promoting positive interactions. In an intervention-based research project, Sherryl Browne Graves of Hunter College introduced a video series on prejudice reduction, called “Different and the Same,” to elementary school students as a way to examine how media can be used in the classroom to influence intergroup relations. She found that the video, which is based on a curriculum that emphasizes the principles of fairness, awareness, inclusion, and respect, does have an effect on children: those exposed to it were more likely to endorse strategies for promoting prejudice reduction than participants in the control group who did not view the video. The video was most effective for inspiring changes in knowledge, followed by changes in attitude; the least influenced aspect was behavior. According to Graves, in general, white children were less likely to endorse inclusive strategies, exhibit positive racial attitudes, or engage in positive intergroup interactions than other groups of children. Graves also called for the design of programs in the media with characteristics that will enhance intergroup relations.
TOWARD A NEW RESEARCH AGENDA: THE CHALLENGES
Many of the studies presented at the workshop raised as many questions as answers. Workshop participants agreed that much research is still necessary to gain competence in promoting respectful and peaceful intergroup relations among young people. Workshop participants noted the need for longitudinal studies of intergroup and ethnic relations over the life span, to follow children as they grow into adolescence and beyond. In addition, participants discussed the need to engage a broader range of disciplines than those represented at the workshop. Specifically, participants noted that it would be useful to involve viewpoints from the fields of political science, public policy, law, religion, architecture, journalism, and urban affairs, for example, to probe the effects of housing policies on intergroup relations, how the design of school buildings influences the institutional climate, how the economies of communities are affected by diversity, and how to eliminate poverty for all children. And cross-national studies are also important, looking beyond the United States in order to study democracies with lessons to impart about building and maintaining positive inter-
group relations. It is also possible that other institutions that place a premium on peaceful, respectful human relations, such as faith communities, may have strategies worth studying.
The studies reviewed at the workshop also raise questions as to what generalizations can be drawn from specific findings, how to disentangle associations from causality, how results can be duplicated in other settings, and how successful interventions or best practices can be reproduced on a larger scale. New and creative evaluation methodologies are essential. In thinking about future research and related strategies and policy, it is crucial to hear the voices of young people themselves about how they are experiencing and managing intergroup relations. Their encounters, their opinions, and their hopes should be considered in planning for the future.
It is not only children who need to be educated, coaxed, and guided in this area. Adults also need to look with full candor into their own attitudes and belief systems. Along with parents, family members, teachers, school officials, and other adults also have influence on young people, through their public behavior and the messages they project; politicians, as well as people in the media and the arts, need to be educated and sensitized to these issues and their responsibilities to young people.
Sometimes the lines among scholarship, research, practice, advocacy, and policy making can be fine ones. Many of the researchers at the workshop spoke of the need for bridge building in these key areas, in order to translate work in one area into strategies for change in another. Kenyon Chan, dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Loyola Marymount University, suggested that researchers have a responsibility to help teachers and other practitioners implement new methods and ideas. “We have an obligation when we do this research to make sure it is translated by us to practitioners in very practical terms, ” he said.
Chan also observed that these interventions are relatively small in scale, and that one major racist act in a school has the potential to wipe out positive effects. He called for attacking the challenges of intergroup relations on a broad “ecological” basis, involving the media, schools, parents, grandparents, and others, as well as the political leadership. Many of the researchers and others present echoed his sense of urgency and the need for a systemic approach to putting changes in place to improve the quality of intergroup relations in an enduring way.