CBS Local– Adults view black girls as “less innocent” than they do white girls, according to a study from Georgetown University law school’s Center on Poverty and Inequality. The study found that black girls are not given the same benefits as white girls are, something the authors call “adultification.”

Researchers surveyed a group of 325 adults that was 74 percent white. The group is well educated, as 69 percent of them have earned an advanced degree. They were asked identical questions of black and white girls and found that adults viewed the black girls as needing less nurturing, support and comfort.

“What we found is that adults see black girls as less innocent and less in need of protection as white girls of the same age,” said Epstein, the center’s executive director, via Washington Post. “This new evidence of what we call the ‘adultification’ of black girls may help explain why black girls in America are disciplined much more often and more severely than white girls – across our schools and in our juvenile justice system.”

Researchers conclude that black girls are five times more likely to be suspended from school, and 20 percent more likely to be charged with a crime, than white girls.

“Ultimately, adultification is a form of dehumanization, robbing black children of the very essence of what makes childhood distinct from all other developmental periods: innocence,” the authors wrote. “Adultification contributes to a false narrative that black youths’ transgressions are intentional and malicious, instead of the result of immature decision-making—a key characteristic of childhood.”

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