Are Parents to Blame for a Child's Racism?

After Sean Penn's son went on a racist rant, we asked experts to weigh in on who's responsible.

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Though her family never used it, Costello once quoted to her parents a friend who said it. Her father made it clear that under no circumstances was she ever to use that word anywhere again. She didn't. But she explained that many parents don't initiate the conversation her father did about why they don't use certain words and why they are harmful, offensive and inappropriate.

In some ways, Costello's explanation invokes parallels to sex education. Just as some parents avoid comprehensive conversations with their children about sex, either because of discomfort or the belief that their children will learn the necessary information elsewhere, or the belief that he or she is a "good kid" who doesn't need such a conversation, some parents avoid discussing racial sensitivity or other forms of tolerance. In both instances, however, a lack of information can cause troubling results.

Costello reiterated, "You have to be very explicit about your values."

Gardere concluded, "It is not fair to blame parents all the time. However, parents must take responsibility for their children's behavior. They have raised them."

Keli Goff is The Root's political correspondent. Follow her on Twitter.

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Keli Goff is The Root’s special correspondent. Follow her on Twitter.

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