Through the Eyes of a Child, Harvard Medicine


Direct and indirect exposure to racism and discrimination during early childhood can have lifelong impacts on a child’s development, physical health, and general wellbeing.

In “Through the Eyes of a Child,” Elizabeth Gehrman explores these topics and more, including: racial trauma; the difference between positive, tolerable, and toxic stress; lifelong impacts on health; trauma-informed care; and more.

Featured Quotes

    • “We do surveys with Black youth here in Pittsburgh, and kids ages 10 to 15 are reporting that people have been racist toward them. By tenth grade, about fifty percent of them have encountered racial discrimination.” – James Huguley, Interim Director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Center on Race and Social Problems
    • “The general public belief is that early experiences don’t have lasting impacts until kids get older. But now we know that even very young kids are affected. Biology makes it clear: The body doesn’t forget. Early experiences both positive and negative literally shape the architecture of the developing brain and other biological systems from the beginning.” – Julius B. Richmond FAMRI Professor of Child Health and Development at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Graduate School of Education
    • “Part of the work of becoming an adult is learning how to modulate the fear response and move toward safety. But when the sense of threat never goes away, and you’re in a chronic state of seeking safety, that short circuits higher-order functions.” – Alisha Moreland, Director of Trauma-Informed Treatment, Consultation, and Outreach at McLean Hospital’s Center of Excellence in Depression and Anxiety Disorders
    • “No child can survive significant adversity by pulling themselves up by the bootstraps. But whether it’s a parent, a childcare or health care provider, a neighbor, or a teacher, just one person can confer the protective effect, bringing the stress system back to baseline by providing caring support.” – James Huguley, Interim Director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Center on Race and Social Problems

Access This Resource

To read the full article, visit the Havard Medicine website.


Image: Four young children sit together on the floor, all playing with different colored pencils, papers, and toys.

Series Navigation

The Developmentally Appropriate Parenting Series highlights several early childhood topics to support parents and caregivers who are caring for young children. Use the list below to navigate through each series topic:

Learn more about the series.

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Picture: A young baby looks up at the camera.
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