Biracial Children Accepted, Shunned by ClassmatesBy Nathan Schwartzman Jan 26, 2009 4:24AM UTC
A recent survey of Korean students to find out whether they accept their peers with a foreign parent found a mixed bag of results: few would refuse to entertain the possibility of being friends with them, and apparently none would outright refuse to see them as Koreans, but many still have trouble feeling close to them overall.
A study has found that five in ten elementary and middle school students think they can be friends with the children of multicultural families.
That finding is from a five-month survey of 1,725 elementary and middle school students in 23 schools in Seoul and Gyeonggi-do conducted by a governmental organization for teenagers (청소년희망재단) at the request of the Ministry of Health and Welfare (보건복지가족부). The students were asked about their feelings on their multicultural peers.
According to the study, 52.9% answered they could be friends with children from multicultural families.
9.3% said they could never be friends with such a child, and 37.7% were uncertain.
Of the reasons given for being unable to be friends, 40.4% answered “because of trouble communicating if they can’t speak Korean,” 33.5% answered “because I would be exhausted by nervous feelings about it,” and 32.3% answered, “because they have different thoughts and lifestyles from me.”
Other reasons included “their appearance and skin color are different,” (24.2%), “I would be embarrassed to be their friend,” (15.5%), and “I would worry about being ostracized,” (16.8%).
41.4% answered “yes” when asked if they consider children from multicultural families to be Koreans, and the remaining 58.6% were uncertain whether they could be seen as Koreans or foreigners.
The study found that girls, middle school students, and those with direct experiences with “multiculturalism” were more likely than boys, elementary students, and those without such experience, to shun children from multicultural families.
Also, the study asked the students to rate their feelings of mental distance from such children on a 5-point scale. The average response was 3.03, indicating a slight aversion.
Asked to use the same scale to rate their aversion to marrying a multicultural child the average response was 3.7, and 2.69 when asked if they would eat together with them.
The Korea Herald’s report puts a somewhat less-positive spin on the survey.