Forcing Kids To Stick To Gender Roles Can Actually Be Harmful To Their Health

Author: Sabrina Leverett

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In this article, Tara Culp-Ressler discusses gender roles and the impact they have on children. I think this article is particularly interesting because it brings up a study recently done on children by Dr. Maria do Mar Pereira, who did a study on teenagers by acting as a student for a few months in an eighth grade class.

In this study, Pereira found that girls would avoid sports and put themselves on diets because they thought they were “feminine.” She also found that boys would face extreme pressure to show off their “manliness” by being violent towards each other.

The author, Culp-Ressler, goes on to discuss how we can help change what the results of the study told us. At the end of the study, Pereira held single and group interviews, and ended up telling the teenagers that nobody liked conforming to those gender roles. Afterwards, Pereira found that there was less mocking and teasing, and the teenagers weren’t so adamant about sticking to their specific gender roles.

Culp-Ressler proceeds to examine how “pressuring kids to conform to those rigid roles can end up having serious mental health consequences for the children whose parents try to over-correct their behavior.” Essentially, she says that while gender roles are harmful to children and their health as found in Pereira’s study and through the findings of other various studies, we can still impact and change this by not teaching our children such a rigid definition of gender.



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