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Social stigma facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts

Social stigma is the disapproval of, or discrimination against, an individual or group. It is based on perceived characteristics that distinguish them from other members of a society. Social stigmas are commonly related to culture, gender, race, socioeconomic class, age, sexual orientation, body image, physical disability, intelligence or lack thereof, and health.


Stigma (plural stigmas or stigmata) is a Greek word. It was used to refer to a type of marking or the tattoo that was cut or burned into the skin of people with criminal records, slaves, or traitors in order to visibly identify them as morally polluted persons. These individuals were to be avoided, particularly in public places.

Social stigmas can occur in many different forms. The most common deal with culture, gender, race, religion, illness and disease. Individuals who are stigmatized usually feel different and devalued by others.

Stigma may also be described as a label that associates a person to a set of unwanted characteristics that form a stereotype. When society categorizes individuals into certain groups the labeled person is subjected to status loss and discrimination. Society will start to form expectations about those groups once the cultural stereotype is secured.

The attributes that society selects differ according to time and place. What is considered out of place in one society could be the norm in another.

Stigma may affect the behavior of those who are stigmatized. Those who are stereotyped often start to act in ways that their stigmatizers expect of them. It not only changes their behavior, but it also shapes their emotions and beliefs. Members of stigmatized social groups often face prejudice that causes depression (i.e. deprejudice). These stigmas put a person's social identity in threatening situations, such as low self-esteem. Because of this, identity theories have become highly researched. Identity threat theories can go hand-in-hand with labeling theory.

Members of stigmatized groups start to become aware that they aren't being treated the same way and know they are likely being discriminated against. Studies have shown that "by 10 years of age, most children are aware of cultural stereotypes of different groups in society, and children who are members of stigmatized groups are aware of cultural types at an even younger age."

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Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Estigma social para niños

National Hispanic Heritage Month on Kiddle
Influential Hispanic politicians
Maria Elvira Salazar
Veronica Escobar
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Lucille Roybal-Allard
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