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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 22, 2024
  2. Killen, Melanie ; Elenbaas, Laura ; Ruck, Martin D. (Ed.)
    Social inequalities and human rights are inevitably linked to children’s and adolescents’ healthy development. Children who experience structural and interpersonal inequalities in access to resources and opportunities based on their gender, race, ethnicity, or other group categories are denied the right to fair treatment. We assert that investigating the psychological perspectives that children hold regarding inequalities and human rights is necessary for creating fair and just societies. We take a constructivist approach to this topic which seeks to understand how individuals interpret and evaluate observed and experienced inequalities. Even young children think about these issues. Yet, throughout development, individuals must often weigh multiple, potentially conflicting considerations when interpreting, evaluating, and responding to social inequalities and rights violations. In these complex contexts, children and adolescents are neither fully “moral” nor fully “prejudiced.” Rather, critical questions for research in this area concern when, why, and for whom young people reject inequalities and support rights, and, by contrast, when, why, and for whom they accept that inequalities and rights violations should be allowed to persist. This paper provides a brief overview of how different conceptions of social inequalities and rights are intrinsically linked together. 
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  3. Social inequalities and human rights are inevitably linked to children’s and adolescents’ healthy development. Children who experience structural and interpersonal inequalities in access to resources and opportunities based on their gender, race, ethnicity, or other group categories are denied the right to fair treatment. We assert that investigating the psychological perspectives that children hold regarding inequalities and human rights is necessary for creating fair and just societies. We take a constructivist approach to this topic which seeks to understand how individuals interpret and evaluate observed and experienced inequalities. Even young children think about these issues. Yet, throughout development, individuals must often weigh multiple, potentially conflicting considerations when interpreting, evaluating, and responding to social inequalities and rights violations. In these complex contexts, children and adolescents are neither fully “moral” nor fully “prejudiced.” Rather, critical questions for research in this area concern when, why, and for whom young people reject inequalities and support rights, and, by contrast, when, why, and for whom they accept that inequalities and rights violations should be allowed to persist. This paper provides a brief overview of how different conceptions of social inequalities and rights are intrinsically linked together. 
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  4. Children’s understanding of status and group norms influence their expectations about social encounters. However, status is multidimensional and children may perceive status stratification (i.e., high- and low-status) differently across multiple status dimensions (i.e., wealth and popularity). The current study investigated the effect of status level and norms on children’s expectations about intergroup affiliation in wealth and popularity contexts. Participants ( N = 165; age range: 5–10 years; M age = 7.72 years) were randomly assigned to hear two scenarios where a high- or low-status target affiliated with opposite-status groups based on either wealth or popularity. In one scenario, the group expressed an inclusive norm. In the other scenario, the group expressed an exclusive norm. For each scenario, children made predictions about children’s expectations for a target to acquire social resources. Novel findings indicated that children associated wealth status to some extent, but they drew stronger inferences from the wealth dimension than from the popularity dimension. In contrast to previous evidence that children distinguish between high- and low-status groups, we did not find evidence to support this in the context of the current study. In addition, norms of exclusion diminished children’s expectations for acquiring social resources from wealth and popularity groups but this effect was more pronounced between wealth groups. We found age differences in children’s expectations in regards to norms, but not in regards to status. The implications of how these effects, in addition to lack of effects, bear on children’s expectations about acquiring resources are discussed. 
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  5. Investigating socioeconomic status (SES) biases, Nepalese children and adolescents (N = 605, 52% girls, Mage = 13.21, SDage = 1.74) attending schools that varied by SES composition were asked to anticipate whether a peer would include a high or low SES character as a math partner. Novel findings were that students attending mixed SES schools were more likely to expect inclusion of a low SES character than were students attending high SES schools. With age, high SES participants attending mixed SES schools increasingly expected the inclusion of the low SES character. Moreover, teachers' democratic beliefs in high SES schools predicted inclusive expectations. Teacher beliefs and school diversity play a significant role for fostering students' inclusivity in educational contexts. 
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  6. Abstract School represents an important context for children’s social, moral, and identity development. Research indicates that supportive teacher-student relationships are significantly related to positive student academic achievement. Unfortunately, teacher bias as well as peer exclusion based on group identity (gender, race, ethnicity, and nationality) pervade many school contexts. The presence of these biases in the classroom is negatively related to students’ academic development, especially for children who are minoritized and marginalized. Very little research has connected teacher bias and children’s reasoning about bias and inequalities in the classroom context. The classroom is a complex environment in which to examine children’s social and moral reasoning about bias, given teachers’ position of authority which often includes power, status, and prestige. We propose that understanding both teacher bias and peer intergroup exclusion are essential for promoting more fair classrooms. This paper reviews foundational theory as well as the social reasoning developmental model as a framework for studying how children think about fairness and bias in the classroom context. We then discuss current research on children’s social-cognitive and moral capacities, particularly in the contexts of societal inequality and social inclusion or exclusion. Finally, this article proposes new directions for research to promote fairness and inclusivity in schools and suggests how these new lines of research might inform school-based interventions. 
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