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Prejudice is making judgments about a person because of his/her religion, race, age, social class, disability, gender or other characteristic before you know enough about that person. That’s what happened with the Nazis. Hitler killed 11 million people just because they were not like him.

That’s an extreme example, but I’ve experienced prejudice because I look Japanese. When I was growing up, I was called names like Jap, Nip, Chink (even though I’m not Chinese). When I was eleven years old, my parents wanted to buy a house. One man refused to let us see his house and told us that the price was double the actual price. This man did not know us, but he had made a judgment about us by our faces.

When you see a skinny boy do you automatically think he’s weak? If someone wears a turban, are you afraid that he is Muslim and therefore a terrorist? Do you befriend someone who is blind or is missing a leg?

Judging others before you know them can lead to hating or discriminating against them, which can lead to harmful behavior. Some kids only want to hang around other kids who are athletic, good looking or popular, and make fun of those who might be studious, shy, or wear nonstylish clothes. Prejudice can cause bullying, mistakenly blame an innocent person for a crime or other action. Not being included to play or invited to parties can lead to isolation. Being a victim of prejudice can make a person feel hopeless, afraid, angry or that he/she has no control or is not as good as others.

Here are some ways you can help reduce prejudice. Don’t laugh at jokes that make fun of people because of their race, disability, or differences. Don’t accept favors because someone thinks you’re better than another person, like cutting in line. Don’t watch movies, play video games, or join in on anything that encourages violence or discrimination against certain groups.

Speak up when you see prejudice and say why that is wrong and how it affects the victims. Interact with kids who appear different. You might learn interesting things from them, or you must just find that they are really not that different from you.

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