Why we do what we do!
The theme of immigration is current in the Netherlands, as are the associated discussions about the multicultural society. Opinions and feelings in society about the arrival of newcomers vary widely. In recent years there have been various protests against the arrival of newcomers.
That this is an important social issue that many people struggle with is also shown by the flow of reports and opinions about newcomers, including refugees and labor migrants, in the (social) media. At the same time, there are many citizens who want to offer help.
According to CBS Netherlands (Central Bureau for Statistics), education is important and has a significant influence on the tolerance of adults at a later age. Although the theme of newcomers and diversity is current, children are rarely actively involved in these discussions. And this despite the fact that opinions, prejudices and an image of ‘the other’ are formed in a young child’s mind at an early age. Prejudices are not instinctive, but are often adopted from parents and in important environments of a child, such as at school, through (unconscious) use of language and other signals. On the one hand, it appears that encounters between children with different backgrounds contribute to a greater awareness of other cultures (and also of one’s own culture), and a positive attitude towards differences between people. On the other hand, stories about diversity, such as children’s books and television programs, also play an important role in whether or not judgments are formed and in identifying stereotyped role patterns in a child’s mind. With diversity in children’s books, children become aware of differences and develop a positive attitude towards them. These include differences between people in terms of cultural background and ethnicity, but also gender, sexual preference, physical and mental disabilities and religion.
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