Forum: Much to learn about racial harmony from the way kids interact at the playground

I'm writing in response to "Let's talk about race, but not just about race" (Sept 12), and "Pandemic habits that hurt your child" (Sept 13).

We can take a leaf out of young children's books where racism is concerned.

I have witnessed children of different races and nationalities meeting for the first time at the playground playing enthusiastically and cooperating over "police and thief" catching games with hardly any word spoken.

In these sessions, there is little consciousness of race and nationality, although they are fully aware that they look and sound different from one another.

Children can see past colour, pride and prejudice to bond over a shared interest - having fun at the playground. This is racial peace.

Most children do not have preconceived biases and discrimination, not until their caregivers start pointing out the differences and stereotyping people in terms of race, class and nationalities that positively or negatively influence the young minds.

Children seem to perceive other children as unique individuals with equal rights to play and make friends.

To sustain such authenticity and respect for one another at a young age, we need to build more purposeful, cooperative playgrounds for children to play with others of another social group. Install more cooperative-play equipment to create opportunities for children to get help from one another to get, say, something swinging, and to relish their group's effort in accomplishing something.

Perhaps, such child-initiated, real-world opportunities would beat having to dress up for Racial Harmony Day.

When children are lost to screens and gadgets, they also lose a chance to engage freely with other children and with that, a chance to teach adults how to live harmoniously with different races and nationalities.

Rebecca Chan (Dr)