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How to stop stereotypes

Updated February 21, 2017

Stereotypes -- perceived differences or assumptions people have about a group of people based on race, gender, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation or religion -- often portray groups in a negative light. They can be spread by different sources, including the media and people in society. Teachers, parents and authority figures have an influence over the way other people view certain cultural groups. Different educational efforts help to educate people within a school, work or home environment and get them to stop believing in stereotypes.

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  1. Educate children by teaching them about the negative and positive aspects of different cultures so that students get a clearer view of what people within certain cultures are like and believe. While exposing children to different cultures, confront stereotypes in a direct manner, giving students examples and reasons why the stereotypes are incorrect.

  2. Bring in guest speakers from different backgrounds to talk about their cultures and to answer questions students might have about their cultural groups.

  3. Teach students about concentration camps for Jews in Germany and internment camps for Japanese people in the United States to show what can happen when stereotypes guide people's actions in a negative manner.

  4. Work to get to know different people within an organisation to help end their assumptions about your cultural group or to expose yourself to people of different cultural backgrounds. Avoid basing your ideas about a cultural group on someone you know who is a part of that group because groups often contain a wide variety of people.

  5. Help to develop or attend a workshop that addresses stereotypes and works to get people to challenge their assumptions.

  6. Develop a discussion group to have honest dialogues with other workers about stereotypes.

  7. Use books, movies, Internet sites and other sources to teach your children about different groups of people. Utilise different sources to teach your children about cultural groups so that they do not base their assumptions from one book, movie or website.

  8. Talk to your children about the history and traditions of people from certain cultural backgrounds after watching animated movies or reading books to give your children a more well-rounded view of people of those cultural groups.

  9. Listen for stereotypes in your children's language, and try to educate them about how harmful stereotypes and prejudice can be. Do not yell at them for using stereotypical language, but instead use it as an opportunity to teach them the harms of stereotypes and prejudice.

  10. Act as a role model for your children's behaviour by making an effort to avoid using stereotypes and prejudiced language in your home. This will help you to have an influence over your children's views and language.

  11. Think about presenting truthful and multifaceted images of different groups of people in the media, if you work for a news organisation, advertising company or TV or radio station. Look at what other media outlets are doing as a guide for what to do or not to do.

  12. Create advertising campaigns, TV shows or news programs where people, especially those from minority groups, are represented as well-rounded people instead of stock characters or stereotypical individuals to influence the public's views.

  13. Look at content closely for stereotypes to actively work to end stereotypes. When you see stereotypical or prejudiced language, take out words or phrases in scripts that have a potential influence over the public's perceptions.

  14. Tip

    Use books, such as "Ouch! That Stereotype Hurts...Communicating Respectfully in a Diverse World" by Leslie C. Aguilar, to teach children about the impact of stereotypes.


    Do not expect people to stop believing in stereotypes quickly. Expect to gradually have to change their minds about stereotypes.

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About the Author

Laura Latzko is a freelance writer based in Phoenix, Ariz. She has reported for the "Columbia Missourian," "Columbia Daily Tribune," "Downtown Express" and "Washington Times." She holds a Master of Arts in journalism from the University of Missouri.

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