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Anderson Cooper CNN Special Examines Children And Race (VIDEO)

Posted: 03/27/2012 3:00 pm Updated: 03/27/2012 3:02 pm

Anderson Cooper

Anderson Cooper's CNN show will air a week-long special that examines children and race next week.

The special will highlight findings from a year-long investigative study that was commissioned by Cooper's CNN show "AC360." The show teamed up with child psychologist Dr. Melanie Killen. Together, the study explored how children perceive "interracial contact in their daily lives."

Cooper said he wanted the study to examine how early children begin to form attitudes and opinions about race. He also said it was important to him that the children examined in the study represent a "cross section of the population." As such, the study was conducted on 145 African American and Caucasian children in six different schools across three states.

The kids were asked to view images that were "scientifically designed to be ambiguous to children." Researchers started each conversation by asking, "what is happening in this picture?"

The video above previews some of the research sessions that will air during next week's CNN special. In one particular conversation, a young boy was asked whether or not an African American child and Caucasian child in the image could be friends. Cooper said he found the reactions to this particular question "frankly surprising." The researcher asked a follow-up question and wondered if it would be easy for a child to convince his parents that it was ok to have other types of people over. The child being interviewed shook his head no.

Cooper said that the point of the study was not to pass judgement or to criticize a child. "This is about educating all of us about subconscious biases that most of us probably have, and trying to understand where those biases come from—how they're formed and importantly, what can be done about them," Cooper said.

Cooper also linked the upcoming special with the controversy surrounding the horrific killing of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. Cooper said he immediately thought of this study after he heard about Martin's death since the controversy surrounding his death is centered on the motivations of his killer, George Zimmerman.

Activists and supporters of Martin's family have called for justice, claiming that Martin was a victim of racial profiling. Zimmerman, a self-appointed neighborhood watchman volunteer, has claimed that he killed Martin in an act of self-defense. Zimmerman was not arrested nor thoroughly examined after he shot and killed Martin in late February.

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Filed by Rebecca Shapiro  |