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Children’s knowledge about the terms “Muslim”, “Jew”, “Roma” and “gypsy” (2018)

If, in quality television for children, the aim is to avoid and purposefully counteract prejudices, it is necessary to find out what prior knowledge children possess.
Whereas there are regular studies on the prejudices of adults in Germany, nothing is known about what children living in Germany associate with ethnic and religious groups such as Jews, Muslims, Roma and “gypsies”, or about the extent to which they agree with some common prejudices. The IZI therefore put these questions to n=840 representatively selected German children between the ages of 6 and 13.

Most of the questioned German primary school children were lacking the building blocks of knowledge here, and it was only in the case of “Muslim” that just under half of the children of primary school age had any concept of the term. In the unprompted statements there were only a few negative judgements which could be classed as prejudices. In terms of content, this is understandable, for German children and pre-teens have a high chance of encountering Muslims in their everyday lives and therefore of getting to know them primarily as people. This counteracts the development of prejudices. However, the chance of meeting Jews or Roma and Sinti in their everyday lives is significantly lower. This is precisely why it is important to have a well implemented teaching unit, as is provided for in most German primary school curricula for years 3 and 4 (age about 8-10) (e.g. within religious studies lessons). This representative survey has shown that the pupils remember little more than a knowledge of the terms from the targeted curricular content, which at least most of them – at least in theory – must have taken part in. Mostly, there is no provision for learning about the Roma or Sinti minority in the pedagogical context of German primary schools. This is why there is a low level of knowledge even with regard to “Roma”. The children are indeed a little more familiar with the word “gypsy”, but it is connected with very clear antiziganistic tendencies.

Götz, Maya: Children’s knowledge about the terms “Muslim”, “Jew”, “Roma” and “gypsy”. TelevIZIon, (32/2019/E), 10-12.