Effects of Appearance Discrimination on Children and How to Remedy It

Appearance discrimination is treating a person unfairly because of how they look. It has been found that the prevalence of discrimination because of physical appearance is significantly higher in girls.[i] Gender discrimination can be the real motive of appearance-based discrimination.[ii]

Appearance discrimination needs more awareness because most people do not consider discrimination based on physical appearance[iii] and yet it has a huge impact on many young people, especially today. In one study, the most prevalent was discrimination because of physical appearance.[iv]

Appearance discrimination often results in bullying for many young people, whether it is done consciously or unconsciously.[v]Unfortunately, in a study, many people that have a visible difference said that their school didn’t do anything to stop them from being bullied.[vi] Another study’s results showed that almost 20% of the adolescents questioned were exposed to discrimination, most frequently to discrimination because of physical appearance.[vii]

If the results of appearance discrimination are not addressed, it can have drastic impacts on how young people view themselves and their futures. Some studies have revealed troubling statistics of the outcomes.

  • 43% of people with a visible difference said it had an impact on their ambition or aspiration in relation to college or university.[viii] More than a fifth (22.3%) of respondents said that their appearance affected their decision on moving into further or higher education.[ix]
  • There are suggestions that people who face discrimination at a young age are more likely to develop behavioral and mental health problems later in life.[x]
  • Appearance discrimination can result in poor body image, which can lead to unhealthy eating habits and decreased self-esteem.[xi]

How to Rectify:

More education and workshops, like Dove’s “Confident Me” lesson workshops[xii], to teach young children about appearance discrimination and empower them to make a difference and feel confident in themselves.

Educating teachers and education professionals what they can do to support children with a visible difference or dealing with these issues and create an inclusive learning environment for all pupils. This could include talking to students about visible differences, addressing appearance-related bullying, and recognizing and challenging unconscious bias.

Parents should educate themselves, as well as their children, on visible differences and helping tackle discrimination by introducing children to the idea of difference at a young age. There are books, TV shows, films, and toys that explore visible difference and disfigurements and challenge myths and stereotypes about those that look different.

Finding ways to increase the representation of those with visible differences in mainstream media. If there can be a way to change the narrative from only being what society deems as “beautiful” is “good,” while the protagonists and villains are visibly different in some way, then there could be some positive changes made when it comes to appearance discrimination.

[i] Laura Bitto Urbanova et al., Adolescents exposed to discrimination: are they more prone to excessive internet use?

[ii] Marcel Schwantes, New Research Reveals Why ‘Appearance Discrimination’ Is Making Workplace Even More Toxic

[iii] Cherea Hammer, A Look into Lookism: An Evaluation of Discrimination Based on Physical Attractiveness

[iv] Bitto Urbanova et al., Adolescents exposed to discrimination: are they more prone to excessive internet use?

[v] https://www.changingfaces.org.uk/for-professionals/teachers/guidance-training-cpd/physical-appearance-discrimination-schools/

[vi] Id.

[vii] Bitto Urbanova et al., Adolescents exposed to discrimination: are they more prone to excessive internet use?

[viii] https://www.changingfaces.org.uk/for-professionals/teachers/guidance-training-cpd/physical-appearance-discrimination-schools/

[ix] Id.

[x] Joe Hernandez, A study links facing discrimination at a young age with future mental health issues

[xi] Amy Morin, How Exposure to the Media Can Harm Your Teen’s Body Image

[xii] https://www.dove.com/us/en/dove-self-esteem-project/school-workshops-on-body-image-confident-me/confident-me-appearance-discrimination.html

Effects of Social Media on Children

The children of today are growing up in a world that revolves around social media. Although there are benefits to being able to connect with others through the internet, there are also some risks to be aware of.


  • Cyberbullying: This is bullying others through online means. Ramifications include low self-esteem and poor mental health. It is important to teach your children that people will say mean things, but that they should not pay them too much mind. It can be helpful to discuss the headspace of someone that might say something cruel to another, whether they are the victim or the bully.
  • Online Predators: Although it is hard to constantly monitor who your child may be talking to, it is important to discuss with them not to talk to strangers online. You can make them more aware by discussing certain things potential predators may say to them. This can include asking for personal information or asking to meet up. It can also be important to encourage your children to have private accounts, so that only those granted access to view their account can look at their pictures or other information they may post.
  • Sharing too much information: This is usually an issue because personal information is often shared in potentially harmful behavior. The ramifications of this include identity theft and predatory behavior. This is another important reason to encourage children to have private accounts on social media. Also, discuss with them what is and is not okay to post on their social media and why.
  • False marketing: This can be hard for children to gauge when something is fake marketing. It is important to research and explain to your children what to be aware of to avoid being tricked. A good rule of thumb is that if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is. It is important to again remind your child to not provide personal information without discussing it with you. Some false marketing are[2]:
    • Product Misrepresentation: This usually entails the product looking different or having different qualities than stated in the ad. The product’s color, size, and look are the things most often misrepresented.
    • Hidden Fees: These are any extra fees that are not stated in an ad or products that have falsely inflated prices so the seller can then advertise them as on sale.
    • Misuse of the Word “Free”: Most things are not free, and you will likely have to pay for something before receiving the product.
  • Dangerous viral trends: There is always some new trend that gets a lot of attention on social media and everyone wants to participate in it, but sometimes these trends can be dangerous. Also, most of these trends play directly into how adolescent brains are wired.[3] This is another area where it is important to talk with your child about what they are seeing on social media. It will give some insight into what the current trends may be and which ones they may be interested in participating in. You can also look into current trends yourself to stay up to date.

Although there are dangers that anyone using social media should be aware of, there can also be benefits to children using social media. They gain these benefits while also engaging in something they enjoy.


  • Digital Media Literacy: This is the practice of interpreting digital media and discerning its accuracy and contextual implications. Skills learned include problem-solving, civic engagement, fact-checking, and research. The developmental benefits are language and literacy, cognitive development, and analytical thinking. Children learn to identify news and information distributed by reputable sources through social media. This can be a good way to discuss current events with children in the context of social media and to learn more about what they are being exposed to on social media platforms.
  • Collaborative Learning: This is any kind of learning done by joint effort. Skills learned include teamwork, emotional resilience, cooperation, empathy, and leadership. The developmental benefits are language and literacy and social skills. Studies have shown that the more children interact in collaborative learning online, the better their attitudes are towards technology.[5] This is especially important since technology is being engrained more into everyone’s daily life, whether through work or communication with others.
  • Creativity: This is using your imagination to make something, or develop an idea or concept. Skills learned include expanding understanding of the world around them, problem-solving, lateral thinking, self-expression, and communication. The developmental benefits are emotional regulation, cognitive perception, and strategic planning. Social media can play a huge role in a child’s creativity in the digital space. Some social media platforms (i.e., Tik Tok and Instagram) encourage children to create their own ideas in different ways that they enjoy, while also being able to share it with others.
  • Mental Health and Wellbeing:  This is a state when an individual realizes their own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses or life, and can work productively and contribute to their community. Social media is often viewed at as contributing negatively to children’s mental health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, that can be true for many children, but there are also some positive contributions to children’s mental health and wellbeing by using social media. It allows children to interact with likeminded people that can relate to their experiences. It can give children a more comforting way to engage with peers and discuss their thoughts and feelings.

Although most social media apps require users to be at least 13 years old, there are many children under the age of 13 that are on these social media platforms. But in a recent poll, parents shared that 50% of children 10 to 12 years old and 33% of children 7 to 9 years old use social media apps.[6] It is important to talk to children about what social media is and give them guidelines for how to use it.

If your child is old enough and social media is something they have expressed interest in, determine if you think your child is ready to be on social media platforms. Some ways to do this are by gauging their maturity level and how they interact with others such as friends at school.[7] If you are unsure, you can allow them to do a trial run on social media to see if it is something you think they would be able to handle. If you decide to allow your child to sign up for social media accounts, there are a few tips that have helped many parents limit the dangers of social media as much as possible.

Tips for Parents

Talk with your Child: It is important to be open and honest with your child about what social media is, what it is used for, and the dangers that come along with it. Determine why they are interested in having an account and what they would use it for. Also, continue to talk often once they do join social media platforms. Continuing to talk to your child allows them to feel like they can go to you and you also remain in the know about what they may be doing.

Be Aware and Monitor: Ensure that you are aware of what your child is doing on their phone and computer. There are a number of dangers on social media, as listed above, and you should do what you can to limit the chance of your child encountering those dangers. Especially, by ensuring that they are not speaking to strangers on the internet or giving out personal information. Having a conversation with your child about these things before allowing them to sign up for social media should reduce some of the actions they may engage in, but kids will be kids so being aware and checking for yourself what they are up to are still very important. There are apps that allow parents to monitor their child’s social media or you can simply scroll through the child’s tablet or phone to view their social media.

Limit Time: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting screen time to two hours a day for children.[8] There are apps that can limit the time spent on specific apps or the electronic device as a whole. These are great tools to give parents more control over their child’s social media presence. It is also important to understand what the screen time is taking time away from. For example, your child could be missing out on getting physical activity, face to face interactions, or learning time.

Go easy on yourself: Trying to figure out the best route to take when it comes to dealing with your child and social media is not easy. Talk with other parents to figure out what they do or ask for help if you’re struggling with what to do when it comes to navigating social media and keeping your child safe.[9] There are also podcasts and other websites that teach parents how to navigate social media with their children. In the end, do what you feel is best for you and your child.

[1] https://health.clevelandclinic.org/dangers-of-social-media-for-youth/

[2] brid.tv/false-advertising/

[3] https://cybersafetycop.com/how-to-talk-to-your-child-about-dangerous-social-media-challenges/

[4] https://www.whistleout.com.au/MobilePhones/Guides/Parenting-Dangers-and-Risks-of-Social-Media-for-Kids

[5] Noga Magen-Nagar & Miri Shonfeld, The impact of an online collaborative learning program on students’ attitude towards technology (2017).

[6] https://health.clevelandclinic.org/dangers-of-social-media-for-youth/

[7] https://health.clevelandclinic.org/dangers-of-social-media-for-youth/

[8] https://health.clevelandclinic.org/dangers-of-social-media-for-youth/

[9] https://health.clevelandclinic.org/dangers-of-social-media-for-youth/

The United States Must Address the Issue with the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility

The U.S. is the only advanced nation that has not set a minimum age of juvenile court jurisdiction below which children cannot be arrested or taken to court.[1] Furthermore, most U.S. states do not have a set minimum age of prosecution in juvenile courts. There are 22 U.S. states and territories that do have specific minimum ages for delinquency adjudication:

  • California and Massachusetts have a minimum age of 12 by statute
  • Nebraska has a minimum age of 11 by statute
  • Fifteen states / territories have a minimum age of 10 by statute: American Samoa, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin
  • Washington state has a minimum age of 8.
  • Connecticut and New York have a minimum age of 7
  • North Carolina has a minimum age of 6 [2]

All the U.S. states that do have a minimum age for delinquency adjudication are below the international standard. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) does not have a specified age of criminal responsibility, but the most common minimum age of criminal responsibility in States parties that have ratified the CRC is 14.[3]

The U.S. states with the highest set minimum age of delinquency adjudication is set at age 12. Evidence in the field of child development indicates that children who are 12 and 13 years old are still evolving in areas of maturity and the capacity of abstract reasoning. Therefore, it is unlikely they understand the impact of their actions or comprehend criminal proceedings. Children under the age of 14 are not culpable for their behavior in the same way as adults or older adolescents.[4]

Without having an appropriate minimum age standard in the U.S., the procedures for determining which young children are mature enough for formal court processing have proven inconsistent and discriminatory.[5]

Entering children into the juvenile justice system is traumatic and can lead to damaging collateral consequences, such as:

  • Barriers to education and employment,
  • Fines and fees,
  • Risk to immigration status,
  • Physical and sexual abuse,
  • Suicide, and
  • Disruptions to mental and physical development that incarcerated children experience [6]

The U.S. needs to implement an acceptable minimum age standard in order to reduce these drastic consequences for children that may not be criminally culpable for their actions and ensure children receive just punishments for their actions.

[1] https://yclj.org/minimum-age

[2] https://njdc.info/practice-policy-resources/state-profiles/multi-jurisdiction-data/minimum-age-for-delinquency-adjudication-multi-jurisdiction-survey/

[3] Committee on the Rights of the Child, General comment No. 24 (2019) on children’s rights in the child justice system

[4] https://yclj.org/minimum-age

[5] https://yclj.org/minimum-age

[6] https://www.njjn.org/our-work/raising-the-minimum-age-for-prosecuting-children