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Looks like some false perceptions are in fact reality for much of America.

A study published in the latest Journal of Personality and Social Psychology reveals that police officers are less likely to view young black boys as innocent as opposed to their white counterparts.

Seriously, tell us something we don’t know.

Atiba Goff, author and professor at UCLA, tells reporters that the more people desensitize their feelings towards black children, the more unjust actions will prevail.

“Children in most societies are considered to be in a distinct group with characteristics such as innocence and the need for protection,” study author and professor of psychology at UCLA Phillip Atiba Goff said of the study. “Our research found that black boys can be seen as responsible for their actions at an age when white boys still benefit from the assumption that children are essentially innocent.”

The study’s subjects – police officers and college-educated students – overestimated the ages of black children, naming children as young as 12 as possible criminals.

As Philip Bump at the Wire notes, college students tended to overestimate the ages of young boys who were presented as having committed a felony by 4.53 years, meaning that 13 and 14-year-old children were determined by respondents to be legal adults. Police officers tended overestimate these boys’ ages by 4.59 years. Overall, researchers note, participants viewed black children aged 10 and older as “significantly less innocent than other children of every age group.”

To make things more obvious, the study reveals that police officers are more prone to use excessive force when dealing with a suspect of color.

There was also a correlation between the police officers’ responses and their record of using force against people suspected of a crime, specifically young black boys, though Goff noted that “future research should try to clarify the relationship between dehumanization and racial disparities in police use of force.”

Much like this study, maybe the cases of Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis and Kendrick Johnson will serve as wake up calls for America.

SOURCE: Salon | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty 

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