Children's self-esteem and their perceptions of prejudice, social satisfaction and status.
The recent social and political changes in South Africa are having a profound effect on social relations in South Africa, and it seems appropriate to study the attitudes of children and their perceptions of racial and gender relations. This study attempts to explore self-esteem, perceptions of social satisfaction, status and prejudice in relation to race and gender. The sample consists of 444 Black and White children aged 12/13 years and 14/15 years. The children were from schools in an urban area (Pietermaritzburg) in Kwa-Zulu, Natal. Three instruments were administered: The Culture-Free Self-Esteem Inventory, the Social Status Technique and the Social Distance Scale. A review of theoretical considerations of prejudice, self-esteem and social identity theory is provided. Statistical analysis indicated the following findings: there is no difference in assessed self-esteem between the races although boys exhibited a more positive self-esteem than girls. Black children showed more positive levels of self-esteem on the academic and parent-related sub-scales, while White children showed a more positive social self-esteem. With regard to social satisfaction and preference, all children identified Whites as being the most satisfied and having the most status. With the exception of Black boys, all children perceive that girls have more satisfaction and status than boys. There is a clear difference between boys and girls with girls showing a strong bias towards their own gender in the preference and satisfaction questions but not on the identification question. In relation to identification, children showed a clear own-group identification. On the Social Distance Scale, Black children were more prejudiced than White children, and were most prejudiced towards the Afrikaans speaking group. Boys also were more prejudiced than girls. The findings are discussed in relation to the theoretical perspectives and to previous findings. A critique of the study and recommendations for future research are included.
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