In Defense of Girlhood 

Childhood adultification is a form of implicit bias that involves contextual, social, and developmental processes in which children are prematurely, and often inappropriately, exposed to adult knowledge, with children assuming extensive adult roles and responsibilities within their family networks. These characteristics are caused by a variety of factors including stereotyping, racism, cultural socializing, poverty, and sexism. Current research findings indicate that these factors influence adult misperceptions of young Black children, as being “miniature adults”. Evidence proves that adults perceive Black girls as young as five years old, as more mature and in less need of protection and nurturing when compared to their white classmates. Another discovery was that Black girls were found to be perceived as less innocent and more mature. This finding is associated with Black girls being perceived by adults to be more culpable for their actions when they make mistakes, which leads to more harsh punishment, when compared to White girls of the same age.  


This training aims to address adultification bias in school systems with an emphasis on increasing awareness of bias and its harmful effects, while informing educators about how to teach Black girls in an environment where they have and equal opportunity to succeed.

The concept of “In Defense of Girlhood” was created while working at the Imperial Courts community in Watts, CA. Currently CEF provides six-twelve week doll play and art therapeutic workshops for girls ages 5-11 in LAUSD schools, to increase opportunities for children learn to express their innocence more vibrantly with their peers; to lower deficit-focused orientation of Blacks girls; and to stimulate positive self-imagery, social interaction techniques, and healthy friendship skills. All sessions are led by a therapist.

©2019 Center for the Empowerment of Families

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