Third Graders' 'Slave Game' Isn't as Racist as It Sounds

swingsParents, it's time for us all to sit our kids down for a little talk. The subject? Recess. Or more specifically, the games they're playing out in the schoolyard. Because the last thing any of us need is a note home from the school that our kids were caught playing "slaves" on the playground.


Parents of third graders at Camp Creek Elementary School in Lilburn, Georgia were understandably shocked when they learned their kids' version of catch split the teams into "slaves" and "slave catchers." But news that a district investigation found the game was something the kids devised on their own -- rather than set up by a teacher -- should actually leave folks feeling better. These little kids probably aren't racist.


Is it possible? Sure. ANYTHING is possible. But at 8-years-old, it's more likely, they're just undereducated about how serious slavery really was.

Generally, kids turning things into a game isn't nefarious. It's just what kids do. They make up games. At my daughter's school, the current favorite is "puppies," which sounds entirely boring to my husband and I but is apparently the bees knees if you're in first grade. Much more benign than what the parents are dealing with in Georgia, but work with me here, people.

The point is, by and large, kids simply look to something in their lives as inspiration for their games. And if they don't know the meaning of a particular topic or just how serious it is, they may well poke fun.

In the case of those little 8-year-olds, slavery is the topic of the day in social studies. Apparently, the lesson wasn't well taught, something I'm willing to bet has changed since the story blew up. That's how we prevent racism in our country -- by educating our kids.

Which provides a good lesson to the rest of us parents out here. We need to be aware of what our kids think is fun or funny and when they're talking about things they just don't seem to understand. I know I just had to correct my 6-year-old after she used a certain four-letter word that begins with the letter S (and is neither snow nor salt) because she didn't know it wasn't something nice girls say!

What have you caught your kids doing or saying that required a big sit down about what that REALLY means?


Image via nzgabriel/Flickr

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