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Study on school counselors' perceptions of biracial children

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    School counselors perceptions of biracial children: a pilot study Henry L. Harris Biracial children represent a growing segment of America s increasingly
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 2, 2007
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      School counselors' perceptions
      of biracial children: a pilot study

      Henry L. Harris

      Biracial children represent a growing segment
      of America 's increasingly diverse population ...

      The research on the unique issues biracial
      children encounter has produced mixed results.

      Some studies found biracial children were more likely to
      experience higher degrees of problems associated with
      racial identity development, social marginality, isolation,
      sexuality conflicts, career dreams, and academic and
      behavioral concerns (Brandell, 1988; Gibbs, 1987; Gibbs
      & Moskowitz-Sweet, 1991; Herring, 1992; Teicher, 1968).

      However, other investigations yielded more positive results
      discovering biracial individuals overall were assertive,
      independent, and emotionally secure and creative
      individuals with a positive self-concept (Kerwin,
      Ponterotto, Jackson, & Harris, 1993; Poussaint,
      1984; Tizard & Phoenix, 1995).


      Historically, biracial individuals have been
      analyzed and judged from biological and
      socio-cultural perspectives (Nakashima, 1992).

      Originally, the biological perspective characterized
      individuals from interracial unions as mentally, physically,
      and morally weak beings and because of their perceived
      genetic inferiority, they faced insurmountable social,
      emotional, and psychological problems
      (Krause, 1941; Provine, 1973).

      The socio-cultural perspective supported the belief that
      biracial people were social and cultural misfits, incapable
      of fitting in or gaining acceptance in any racial group,
      destined to lead a life of loneliness and confusion.

      The ultimate goal behind both perspectives was
      racial division, which socially and legally discouraged
      Caucasians from marrying and/or having
      children with people of color (Nakashima).

      For example, in 1945, more than half of the states
      had active laws banning interracial marriages.
      Twenty-one years later, 19 of those
      states still had such laws on the books.

      It was not until 1967 that the U.S. Supreme Court
      ruled, in Loving v. Virginia , that states could not
      legally prohibit interracial marriages (Parker, 1999) …

      According to Kerwin and Ponterotto (1995),
      biracial individuals have been
      negatively affected by stereotyping.

      Stereotypes are rigid preconceptions held
      about all people who are members of a
      particular group (Sue & Sue, 1999).

      Stereotyping commonly leads to assigning to
      a single individual, characteristics associated
      with a group of people or extending to a group,
      the characteristics attached to a single individual
      on the basis of limited personal contact.

      It is important to note that not all stereotypes
      are unfavorable and not all stereotypes are
      completely inaccurate (Axelson, 1993).

      However, they are based upon a lack of knowledge
      and all incoming information is distorted to match
      a person's pre-conceived notions (Sue & Sue).

      There are a number of stereotypes
      associated with biracial individuals.

      One stereotype labels them as socially
      maladjusted outcasts, lacking culture,
      who will more than likely encounter identity
      problems stemming from their racial heritage.

      Suggesting that biracial children will automatically have
      identity problems typically refers to the perspective that
      these individuals do not fit neatly into socially defined
      categories and consequently have trouble determining
      their status, role, and position in society (Brown, 1990).

      Furthermore, this perspective assumes they will be
      "rejected at face value by all ethnic groups and
      considered marginal but not actual members
      of these groups" (Kerwin & Ponterotto, p.203).

      Another stereotype asserts the belief that biracial
      children should identify with the parent-of-color
      because society will ultimately view them from
      this perspective (Kerwin & Ponterotto, 1995).


      [Contributor's Note:
      The statement above shows the example of the
      false assumption often made that the biracial
      person absolutely has to have a `White' parent
      and / or has to have parents who are listed in two
      separate "racial" categories -- in order to be biracial.
      In reality –many biracial and other multiracial
      Individuals are the offspring or parents and
      / or grandparents who are also multiracial.]

      This point of view runs the risk of causing serious
      psychological harm especially if the child disregards
      and does not incorporate the cultural heritage of
      one parent into his or her identity development.

      The inability of the biracial child to culturally identify
      with both parents may cause the individual to
      experience feelings of disloyalty and enormous
      guilt over their rejection of one parent (Sebring, 1985).

      Finally, another stereotype involves the belief
      that biracial children do not like to discuss
      issues concerning their racial heritage.

      Discussing such issues may prove to be difficult for some;
      however, when questions are considered genuine
      and nonjudgmental, biracial individuals do not
      mind such inquiries (Kerwin et al.1993).

      Regardless of race or ethnicity, when biracial children are
      raised in a nurturing environment with psychologically
      and emotionally involved, "they can be expected to
      acquire stability and cohesiveness of the self, and those
      attributes (e.g., self-confidence, capacity for empathy,
      self-approval, self-resiliency) intimately associated
      with healthy self-structure," (Brandell, 1988, p.180).

      However, Brandell further contended that biracial children
      operating between two cultures may have additional issues
      to contend with solely because of their unique racial status.
      Biracial children must routinely cope with … people
      who in addition to rejecting their family structure
      (Steele, 1995), picture the family environment as
      pathological and unstable (Shackford, 1984).

      Even today it remains safe to assume that some social
      workers, psychologists, and school counselors often
      see problems associated with biracial individuals
      as a direct result of their cultural heritage.



      SCHOOL COUNSELORS' PERCEPTIONS
      OF BIRACIAL INDIVIDUALS

      In recent years, some writers in the counseling profession
      have specifically called upon school counselors to better
      address the counseling needs of biracial children in the
      school setting (Herring, 1992; Nishimura, 1995; 1992).

      Responding to this call, Nishimura and Bol (1997) collected
      data from 120 school counselors investigating their
      perceptions of the counseling needs of biracial children.

      They discovered school counselors did not
      perceive biracial children experiencing any
      more or fewer problems than other children.

      An overwhelming majority (90%) of them
      indicated they were able to meet the counseling
      needs of biracial students without changing
      their current counseling program.

      While Nishimura and Bol (1997) investigated school
      counselors' perceptions of the counseling needs of
      biracial children, no studies reported to date
      have specifically examined school counselors'
      personal perceptions of biracial children.

      Personal perceptions that school counselors
      hold of biracial individuals will inevitably
      influence their views on the severity and types
      of problems biracial individuals encounter.

      Therefore, the goal of this study was to
      examine school counselors' personal
      perceptions of biracial individuals.

      The following research questions were addressed:

       

      *          What personal perceptions do school counselors
                    have concerning biracial individuals?


      *          What personal counseling experience do school
                    counselors have with biracial individuals?

       

      *          Is there a relationship between school level,
                    years of counseling experience, and school
                   counselors' perceptions of individuals?

       

      *          Is there a relationship between gender and school
                   counselors' perceptions of biracial individuals?

       

      *          Is there a relationship between the existence
                   of promoted cultural diversity programs in
                  schools and school counselors'
                  perceptions of biracial individuals?

      METHOD

      Participants

      Initially, 900 school counselors from 16 public
      school districts, ranging in size from less than
      1,000 students to more than 75,000 students,
      were invited to participate in the study.

      The participants were located in nine states from
      the Southeastern region of the United States…

      There were a total of 176 school counselors employed
      in elementary settings, followed by 89 at the middle
      school level, and 63 in the high schools.
      Eighty-seven percent (n = 285) of the sample
      consisted of women and 13% (n = 43) were men.

      The years of school counseling experience varied with
      32% (n = 104) having 1 to 5 years of experience, 24%
      (n = 77) with 6 to 10 years of counseling experience,
      21% (n = 71) with 11 to 15 years of experience, and
      23% (n = 76) with 16 or more years of experience.

      Cultural diversity and awareness programs were reported
      being promoted in 74% (n = 241) of the schools.
      Twenty-one percent (n = 69) of the respondents
      suggested such programs were not promoted,
      and the remaining 5% (n = 18) reported such
      programs were somewhat promoted.

      Academically, 70% (n = 230) of the school
      counselors had taken a multicultural counseling course
      and 30% (n = 98) reported no such coursework.

      Biracial children were also represented
      in 93% (n = 304) of the schools.

      Participants were asked to estimate the percentage of
      students based upon race within their respective school.

      For the purpose of this study, an arbitrary decision
      was made by the researcher to categorize schools
      as diverse if 30% or more of the student body
      consisted of individuals from two or more racial groups.

      Schools were categorized as non-diverse
      when one specific racial group of students
      comprised 71% or more of the student body.

      Instrument

      Participants were asked to complete to a
      25-item survey covering a broad range
      of issues regarding biracial children.

      The survey was created by the researcher and based
      upon a review of literature exploring a variety of personal
      and social issues confronting biracial individuals
      (Brandell, 1988; Brown, 1990; Buttery, 1987; Foeman & Nance,
      1999; Gibbs & Moskowitz-Sweet, 1991; Hatcher, 1987;
      Kerwin & Ponterotto, 1995; McRoy & Freeman,
      1986; Nakashima, 1992; Nishimura, 1995; 1992).

      Colleagues familiar with the topic served as
      reviewers and provided valuable feedback,
      especially in the wording of the survey items.

      Originally, the first version of
      the survey contained 30 items.

      However, after consulting with colleagues,
      5 items were eliminated because they
      were considered vague and confusing.

      Demographic information was requested on eight survey
      items inquiring about the participants' race, gender, years
      of experience as a school counselor, racial composition
      of the student body in their school, whether or not biracial
      individuals were represented in their school, counseling,
      experience with biracial individuals, school grade level, and
      if they had taken a formal multicultural counseling course.

      Three survey items briefly explored their personal
      counseling experience with biracial children.

      Thirteen items addressed the school counselors'
      individual perceptions of biracial children focusing
      predominantly on academic, behavioral, and identity
      related matters (see Appendix and Table 1).

      The final question was open-ended, inviting additional
      written comments addressing other concerns
      school counselors held of biracial individuals.

      Overall, 18 of the 25 items asked participants to
      respond by checking "yes," "no," or "unsure."

      One survey item that inquired about whether or not
      cultural diversity and awareness programs were
      promoted in the schools, asked counselors to respond
      by checking "yes," "no," or "somewhat" (see Table 3).

      Procedure

      The school counselors who participated in this pilot
      study were selected primarily because of their location
      in the Southeastern region of the United States .

      The address of each school was obtained by contacting
      the central office or by searching each district's Web site.
      Individual packets were mailed to each school
      addressed to the attention of the school counselor.

      A decision was made by the researcher to mail the
      elementary schools only one packet because
      they typically had only one counselor on staff.

      The middle and high schools were mailed two
      individual packets because in most schools,
      but not all, they had two or more counselors on staff.

      The packet included a cover letter, the survey, and
      a business reply self-addressed return envelope.

      The cover letter informed participants about the
      purpose of the survey and assured them their
      responses would remain confidential.

      The cover letter also provided participants with the
      phone number and e-mail address of the researcher
      to answer any potential questions or concerns.

      Due to limited funding and resources, follow-up reminders
      were not sent out to individual school counselors.

      Research Design

      Survey research is one form of quantitative descriptive
      research and, according to Babbie (1979), the objectives
      are to describe, explain, or explore phenomena.

      This research project, exploratory in design, is most
      often used when little is known about a phenomenon
      and the researcher desires to learn more about
      it (Heppner, Kivlighan, & Wampold, 1999).

      In this case, the phenomenon was school
      counselors' perceptions of biracial children.

      Descriptive statistics were
      computed for all items on the survey.

      Chi square analysis was employed to investigate possible
      associations between school counselors' perceptions and
      school level, years of counseling experience, gender, and
      the existence of cultural diversity programs in schools.

      RESULTS

      What Personal Perceptions Do School
      Counselors Have Concerning Biracial Individuals?

      Sixty-seven percent of the school counselors did not
      believe society openly accepted biracial children,
      and 43% indicated they would have a difficult
      time adjusting to society (see Table 1).

      When biracial children's social skills and attitudes toward
      adults were compared with other children, 63% (n = 214)
      of the school counselors sensed there was no such
      difference, 26% (n = 78) indicated there was
      a difference, and 11% (n = 36) were uncertain.

      Ninety-three percent of the participants
      supported the belief that biracial children
      should culturally identify with both parents.

      However, when addressing the opinion that it was in the
      best interest socially and psychologically for biracial
      children to live in a neighborhood reflecting the minority,
      only 38% of the school counselors disagreed,
      while over half (52%) answered unsure (see Table 1).

      What Personal Counseling Experience Do
      School Counselors Have With Biracial Individuals?

      The results showed that 82% (n = 262) of the school
      counselors reported having some personal
      counseling experience with biracial individuals.

      In addition, 82% (n = 270) of the respondents
      indicated they would feel comfortable providing
      counseling services to biracial students.

      Forty-four percent (n = 143) of the school counselors
      expressed the opinion they did not need additional
      preparation or information to more effectively provide
      counseling services to biracial students.

      However, 45% (n = 146) held contrary
      positions, suggesting a desire for
      additional information and preparation.

      Is There A Relationship Between School Level,
      Years of Counseling Experience, and School
      Counselors' Perceptions of Biracial Individuals?

      Chi square analysis revealed that the elementary
      grade level was found to be directly related to the
      perception that biracial children tend to have more
      behavioral problems when compared to other
      children, [chi square] (4, N = 328) = 13.92, p = .008.

      Secondary school counselors perceived minorities were
      more accepting of biracial children than non-minorities,
      [chi square] (4, N = 328) = 9.94, p = .041 (see Table 2).

      School counselors having 1 to 5 years of counseling
      experience were associated with the notion that
      presenting problems from biracial children were
      more than likely the result of identity conflicts,
      [chi square] (6, N = 328) = 13.27, p = .039.

      In addition, the perception of automatically
      categorizing biracial children specifically
      with the minority parent was significantly
      related to school counselors with 1 to 5
      years of counseling experience, [chi square]
      (6, N = 328) = 14.07, p = .029 (see Table 2).

      [Contributor's Note:
      The statement above shows the example of the
      false assumption often made that the biracial
      person absolutely has to have a `White' parent
      and / or has to have parents who are listed in two
      separate "racial" categories -- in order to be biracial.
      In reality –many biracial and other multiracial
      Individuals are the offspring or parents and
      / or grandparents who are also multiracial.]

      Is There a Relationship Between Gender and
      School Counselors' Perceptions of Biracial Individuals?

      Male school counselors perceived biracial children
      experiencing more academic problems when compared to
      other children, [chi square] (2, N = 328) = 7.91, p = .019.

      Furthermore they were more likely than female school
      counselors to perceive that minorities were more
      accepting of biracial children than non-minorities,
      [chi square] (2, N = 328) = 7.46, p = .024 (see Table 2).

      Is There a Relationship Between the Existence
      of Promoted Cultural Diversity Programs
      in Schools and School Counselors'
      Perceptions of Biracial Individuals?

      The impact of the existence of actively promoted cultural
      diversity and awareness programs in schools was
      significantly related to a number of perceptions.

      For example, the majority of school counselors who were
      uncertain whether or not biracial children exhibited more
      behavioral problems were in schools that somewhat
      promoted cultural diversity and awareness programs,
      [X.sup.2] (4, N = 328) = 15.04, p = .004 (see Table 3).

      School counselors who agreed with the concept that
      biracial children should identify most with the minority
      parent were in schools that did not actively promote
      cultural diversity and awareness programs,
      [X.sup.2] (4, N = 328) = 13.08, p = .011.

      [Contributor's Note:
      The statement above shows the example of the
      false assumption often made that the biracial
      person absolutely has to have a `White' parent
      and / or has to have parents who are listed in two
      separate "racial" categories -- in order to be biracial.
      In reality –many biracial and other multiracial
      Individuals are the offspring or parents and
      / or grandparents who are also multiracial.]

      Another statistically significant relationship showed that
      school counselors who agreed with the perspective that
      presenting problems biracial children encounter were
      more than likely the result of identity confusion also
      worked in schools that did not actively promote
      cultural diversity and awareness programs,
      [X.sup.2] (4, v = 328) = 14.64, p = .005 (see Table 3).

      The majority of school counselors who instinctively
      categorized biracial children with the minority parent
      were employed in school environments that did not
      actively promote cultural diversity and awareness
      programs, [X.sup.2] (4, N = 328) = 19.97, p = .001.

      [Contributor's Note:
      The statement above shows the example of the
      false assumption often made that the biracial
      person absolutely has to have a `White' parent
      and / or has to have parents who are listed in two
      separate "racial" categories -- in order to be biracial.
      In reality –many biracial and other multiracial
      Individuals are the offspring or parents and
      / or grandparents who are also multiracial.]

      The opinion that biracial children would not experience
      as many problems relating to racial identity providing
      they live in a racially diverse neighborhood was
      associated with participants that actively promoted
      cultural diversity and awareness programs,
      [X.sup.2] (4, N = 328) = 10.16, p = .038.

      Finally, school counselors who perceived minorities more
      accepting of biracial children than non-minorities worked
      in school environments that did not actively promote
      cultural diversity and awareness programs, [X.sup.2]
      (4, N = 328) = 14.41, p = .006 (see Table 3).

      DISCUSSION

      This pilot study exploring school counselors' perceptions
      of biracial children generated some intriguing results.
      Similar to Nishimura and Bol's (1997) findings, biracial
      individuals were represented in nearly all of the schools,
      which demonstrates to some degree they
      are a more recognized population.

      Even though biracial individuals are more recognized
      today, this does not amount to societal acceptance.

      School counselors validated this perspective as they
      strongly supported the position that biracial children
      were not genuinely accepted by society.

      Schools in many aspects are a microcosm of society, and
      if biracial children are not genuinely accepted by society,
      then how genuinely are they accepted in the schools?

      School counselors' perceptions, to some degree,
      suggest that biracial children, because of the
      manner in which society perceives their family
      environment, may still face additional stressors
      that other children do not necessarily encounter.

      Elementary school counselors who perceived biracial
      children having more behavioral problems than
      middle or high school counselors may be
      linked to the cognitive/emotional stage of
      development these children are experiencing.

      Elementary children in general are not as guarded in
      expressing their true feelings, yet as they grow older
      and mature, certain emotions once openly expressed
      may be internalized and seen as immature.

      Elementary school counselors may also see more
      behavioral problems because they are likely to spend
      more time providing counseling-related services to children
      at this age than do middle or high school counselors.

      The Tennyson, Miller, Skovholt, and Williams (1989)
      study supported this view because they found in their
      survey that secondary school counselors reported that,
      as a group, they were involved in scheduling more
      often than in any other activity, including providing
      counseling-related services to students.

      Elementary school counselors, according to Morse
      and Russel (1988), preferred to conduct more group
      work with students focusing on enhancing their
      self-concept, developing problem-solving skills,
      and learning appropriate social skills.

      Finally, it must be taken into consideration that
      biracial students may choose not to see counselors
      as often in middle or high schools because of the
      stigma associated with seeing a school counselor.

      Male school counselors as compared to female school
      counselors perceived biracial children experiencing more
      academic problems, and one has to question the impact
      of gender role socialization
      upon this perspective.

      When females reach adulthood, they often become more
      caring, supportive, and empathetic, while males become
      more independent, self-reliant, and unexpressive.

      Males in general, are also more likely to show anger
      toward strangers, especially other males, when they
      feel they have been challenged (Santrock, 1997).

      Another important finding of this study indicated
      that
      school counselors who worked in school
      environments that actively promoted cultural
      diversity and awareness programs held more
      accurate perceptions of biracial children.

      For example, they did not believe that biracial
      children should identify most with the minority
      parent nor did they perceive minorities more
      accepting of biracial children than non-minorities.

      [Contributor's Note:
      The statement above shows the example of the
      false assumption often made that the biracial
      person absolutely has to have a `White' parent
      and / or has to have parents who are listed in two
      separate "racial" categories -- in order to be biracial.
      In reality –many biracial and other multiracial
      Individuals are the offspring or parents and
      / or grandparents who are also multiracial.]

      School counselors should not automatically
      assume that minorities are always more
      accepting of biracial children than non-minorities.

      This sometimes is a controversial issue for both the
      minority and majority communities (Buttery, 1987).

      Identity development has been one of the primary topics
      of concern for researchers focusing on biracial children
      (Brandell, 1988; Gibbs, 1987; Herring, 1992;
      McRoy & Freeman, 1986; Poston, 1990;
      Sebring, 1985; Teicher, 1968).

      School counselors who perceived identity "confusion"
      as the major cause of "emotional problems" for
      biracial children were in schools that did not
      actively promote cultural diversity programs, and
      they also were re least experienced counselors.

      Herring cautioned school counselors not to
      automatically assume the presenting
      problems of biracial children are always
      the direct result of "identity conflicts".

      Even when a biracial child enters counseling, school
      counselors should not necessarily assume the
      presenting problems biracial children are
      experiencing are direct results of "identity conflicts".

      McRoy and Freeman contended that it is highly
      possible that racial identity concerns will not be
      among the presenting problems for biracial
      children who are referred to counseling.

      Instead, referrals are made for other matters such as
      poor academic achievement, social isolation, off-task
      behavior, and negative attitudes toward adults…

      Some writers believe that it is best socially and
      psychologically for interracial families to live in
      racially diverse neighborhoods as it may help facilitate
      positive development of racial identity in biracial
      children by exposing them to different cultures

      (Buttery, 1987; McRoy & Freeman, 1986).

      Counselors employed in school settings
      that actively promoted cultural diversity and
      awareness programs also supported this view.

      School counselors who reported they were more likely
      to automatically identify biracial children with the minority
      parent had less than 5 years of counseling experience
      and were in schools that did not promote cultural
      diversity and awareness programs.

      [Contributor's Note:
      The statement above shows the example of the
      false assumption often made that the biracial
      person absolutely has to have a `White' parent
      and / or has to have parents who are listed in two
      separate "racial" categories -- in order to be biracial.
      In reality –many biracial and other multiracial
      Individuals are the offspring or parents and
      / or grandparents who are also multiracial.]

      School counselors should thoroughly explore
      reasons that lead to such characterizations.

      One way this task can be accomplished is by
      conducting a personal analysis using the
      following questions as a guide:


           How do I honestly feel about interracial
      marriages and partnerships?

           Do I judge them differently when compared to
      non-interracial marriages and partnerships?

           What preconceived notions do I
      have regarding biracial individuals?

           What type of experiences have
      I had with biracial individuals?

           What type of experiences have I had
      with parents of biracial children?

           How do those experiences impact my perceptions?

           What factors cause me to identify
      biracial children with the minority parent?

       

      [Contributor's Note:
      The statement above shows the example of the
      false assumption often made that the biracial
      person absolutely has to have a `White' parent
      and / or has to have parents who are listed in two
      separate "racial" categories -- in order to be biracial.
      In reality –many biracial and other multiracial
      Individuals are the offspring or parents and
      / or grandparents who are also multiracial.]

           Is it the way the child appears physically?

           Is it the manner that he or she speaks or the
      neighborhood in which the child lives?

           What personal feelings do I have

      regarding biracial children?

           Do I label all biracial children with the
      minority or only biracial children

      from certain types of interracial unions?

      [Contributor's Note:

      The statement above shows the example of the

      false assumption often made that the biracial

      person absolutely has to have a `White' parent
      and / or has to have parents who are listed in two

      separate "racial" categories -- in order to be biracial.

      In reality –many biracial and other multiracial

      Individuals are the offspring or parents and

      / or grandparents who are also multiracial.]

       

           How does my school environment

      contribute to my perceptions?

           If I hold negative or inaccurate perceptions of

      biracial individuals and or multiracial families,
      what can I personally do to do overcome them?

           Exploring questions of this nature may be difficult for
      some; however, the intent is to help school counselors
      become more aware of their personal biases.


      Implications for School Counselors

      Based upon the results of this pilot study, school
      counselors who were employed in schools that actively
      promoted cultural diversity and awareness programs
      held more accurate perceptions of biracial individuals.

      Therefore, all school counselors should genuinely strive
      to promote cultural diversity and awareness programs
      in their respective school, thus creating a
      multicultural school environment.

      Establishing this type of environment provides fellow
      counselors, school administrators, teachers, students,
      other staff members, and possibly the community with
      unique opportunities to increase their awareness,
      knowledge, and understanding of individuals
      from culturally different backgrounds.

      This is a significant factor relating to perceptions of biracial
      individuals, because even though societal attitudes
      towards them have evolved over the years, some
      of the stereotypic perceptions remain in place today.

      School counselors must also continuously examine,
      explore, and become aware of their own personal
      values toward biracial individuals (McRoy &
      Freeman, 1986) and, furthermore, recognize
       how their values may influence their perceptions.

      [P]rofessionals working with biracial individuals
      and their families must strive to overcome personal
      prejudices, gain accurate information to defeat
      stereotypic views, and then help create an
      environment that is supportive for biracial individuals.

      In order to promote a better understanding of biracial
      individuals, school counselors must continue to develop
      and improve their knowledge base about the
      identity development of biracial individuals.

      One of the earlier models of identity development such as
      the one developed by Stonequist (1937) conceptualized
      individuals who had more than one racial group heritage
      as marginal members to these particular groups.

      They were often negatively perceived as people who were
      "more likely to be restless and race conscious, aggressive
      and radical, ambitious and creative" (Stonequist, p.25).

      However, more recent models of identity development
      such as those proposed by Kerwin and Ponterotto (1995),
      Kich (1992), and Poston (1990) provide more accurate
      perspective of identity development for biracial individuals.

      School counselors should recognize that identity
      development for biracial individuals is a developmental
      process and may sometimes be demonstrated in
      manners which appear negative (Hatcher, 1987).

      Finally, school counselors must take into consideration
      that biracial children are individuals, with emotional
      needs and desires in many ways similar to other children.

      CONCLUSION

      This exploratory study investigated school counselors'
      perceptions of biracial children and the results
      indicated school level, years of counseling
      experience, and gender influenced certain perceptions.

      School counselors' perceptions were also affected
      by the presence of actively promoted cultural
      diversity and awareness programs.

      When cultural diversity and awareness programs
      are actively promoted in schools, they create
      an environment in which a variety of cultures
      are celebrated and genuinely valued.

      Furthermore, racial issues are openly discussed ...

      This is a significant issue for school counselors to be
      aware of because biracial children are one of the fastest
      growing segments in U.S. society today, and this
      investigation demonstrated that some of the traditional
      beliefs concerning biracial individuals remain intact.

      This exploratory project is not without limitations.

      First, the results can only be generalized to school
      counselors working in the nine states located in
      the Southeastern region of the United States .

      The generalizations should also be cautiously interpreted
      because there is no assurance that all participants
      honestly responded to each item on the survey.

      In addition, the sample of respondents, especially males,
      should be increased and expanded to include a national
      pool of school counselors where regional and other
      cultural elements could be taken into consideration.

      In conclusion, it is important to emphasize that this study
      attempted to contribute to an area of research
      concerning biracial individuals that has
      been literally ignored over the years.

      Hopefully, the information gained will help all school
      counselors develop a more accurate perception
      of biracial individuals and foster ways to improve
      the cultural climate in their respective schools.


      APPENDIX

       

      Personal Perceptions of Biracial Individuals Questionnaire

      1.             I believe biracial children in school settings tend

      to have more academic problems than other children.

                       Yes -- No -- Unsure --

      2.             Individuals from different racial/ethnic backgrounds should avoid

      having children because of social pressure the children may encounter.

                      Yes -- No -- Unsure –

       

      3.             I believe biracial children in school settings tend to

      have more behavioral problems than other children.

                      Yes -- No -- Unsure --

      4.             I believe biracial children have social skills and

      attitudes toward adults no different than other children.

                      Yes -- No -- Unsure –

       

      5.             I feel that biracial children should culturally

      identify most with the minority parent.

                      Yes -- No -- Unsure –

       

      [Contributor's Note:

      The statement above shows the example of the

      false assumption often made that the biracial

      person absolutely has to have a `White' parent
      and / or has to have parents who are listed in two

      separate "racial" categories -- in order to be biracial.

      In reality –many biracial and other multiracial

      Individuals are the offspring or parents and /

      or grandparents who are also multiracial.]

       

      6.             I feel presenting problems from biracial children are

      more than likely the result of identity conflicts.

                      Yes -- No -- Unsure –

       

      7.             I believe biracial children should culturally identify with both parents.

                      Yes -- No -- Unsure --

      8.             When I see a biracial child, I automatically

      categorize him/her with the minority parent.

                      Yes -- No -- Unsure –

      [Contributor's Note:

      The statement above shows the example of the

      false assumption often made that the biracial

      person absolutely has to have a `White' parent
      and / or has to have parents who are listed in two

      separate "racial" categories -- in order to be biracial.

      In reality –many biracial and other multiracial

      Individuals are the offspring or parents and /

      or grandparents who are also multiracial.]

      9.             Biracial children will have fewer problems relating to racial

                      identity if they live in a diverse community.

                      Yes -- No -- Unsure --

      10.           I believe minorities are generally more accepting of biracial

                      children than are non-minorities.

                       Yes -- No -- Unsure --


      Table 1. Counselors' Perceptions of Biracial Children
      Distributed in Percentages and Frequencies

      Perception                                                                                                            Yes %                   N

           I believe society openly accepts biracial children                                       17 %                       54
           It is best psychologically for biracial children to
      live in neighborhoods reflecting the minority parent.                    10 %                       32

      [Contributor's Note:
      The statement above shows the example of the false assumption often made that
      the biracial person absolutely has to have a `White' parent and / or has to have
      parents who are listed in two separate "racial" categories -- in order to be biracial.
      In reality –many biracial and other multiracial Individuals are the
      offspring or parents and / or grandparents who are also multiracial.]

           Biracial children have a more difficult time
      adjusting to society than other children.                                         43 %                       142

      Perception                                                                            No %                     N
           I believe society openly accepts biracial children                                       66%                        219
           It is best psychologically for biracial children to
      live in neighborhoods reflecting the minority parent.                                    38%                        125
           Biracial children have a more difficult time
      adjusting to society than other children.                                         36%                        116

      Perception                                                                            Unsure%              N
           I believe society openly accepts biracial children                                       17%                        55
           It is best psychologically for biracial children to
      live in neighborhoods reflecting the minority parent.                    52%                        171
      [Contributor's Note:
      The statement above shows the example of the false assumption often made that
      the biracial person absolutely has to have a `White' parent and / or has to have
      parents who are listed in two separate "racial" categories -- in order to be biracial.
      In reality –many biracial and other multiracial Individuals are the
      offspring or parents and / or grandparents who are also multiracial.]

           Biracial children have a more difficult time
      adjusting to society than other children.                                         21%                        70


      Note. n = 328

      Table 2. Frequencies and Percentages for Significant Chi Square


      Results

      School Level:
                              Yes                         No                           Unsure                   Total

      Biracial children in schools tend to have more behavioral problems.
      Elementary                            19 (11%)                 131(74%)                26 (15%)                 176
      Middle                                   5 (06%)                   60 (67%)                 24 (27%)                 89
      High                       2 (03%)                   55 (87%)                 6 (11%)                   63
      Totals                                    

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