The Effect of Hate on Children

Posted by: Asa Don Brown on September 28, 2012 4:16 pm

“I have decided to stick to love…Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

                                                                                     ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Webster’s Dictionary (2012) defines hate as an “intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury.  It is an extreme dislike or antipathy (and in most cases, there is) an object of hatred.”

Children who are exposed to hate are prone to a world of disorder, conflict, turmoil, strife, and an array of injustices.  Hate is the catalyst for human depravity and personal decay.  The typical foundations of hate begin in adolescence, they begin to blossom in the early life of a child.  Hate is rarely founded and always based on an indifference between peoples. 


The National Association of Social Workers definition is:  “Hate violence crimes are those directed against persons, families, groups, or organizations because of their racial, ethnic, religious, or sexual identities or their sexual orientation or condition of disability.” (Barnes & Ephross, 2012, Online)

Hate knows no friend; it breaches the wellbeing of both the hated and the hater. Children who are taught to hate, whether implied or through an act of projection, are forced to live lives in constant opposition.   Hate stifles their ability to fully live a life engulfed with love and security.  Hate not only permanently skews their cognitive perceptions of the world, but it causes personal distress leaving a stain on one’s ideological viewpoints of that world.  Fortunately, while the senseless act of hate can have a permanent effect upon the emotional welfare of the individual; those who hate, or are being groomed to hate, can experience lifelong reprieve from the shackles of hate.


Hate’s effect can be passed down through the generations of a family, a community, or a civilization.  It is hate that acts as rust on the human mind and spirit.  Hate slowly causes an oxidation on the natural process of love, peace, and acceptance from within a person.  It is hate that transforms the natural order of the human condition, causing an internal and external strife within the very fabric of humanity. 

Hate has caused wars and created rumors of wars; it has pitted children against children and adult against adult; it is hate that allows for teachers to bully their students and student’s to bully one-another.  Hate is often confused with pride, while genuinely positive pride, is “the consciousness of one’s own dignity,” (Webster’s Dictionary, 2012), as well as, having a source of intense approval for one’s achievements and personal successes.  Hate has no relationship to pride.

While hate is the decayer, love and acceptance are the cure.  Hate cannot know the light of the world, rather hate itself is an opponent of darkness.  What does darkness symbolize?  Darkness is the unknowing, the instigator of our greatest fears, the promoter of our worse nightmares, and the master of human dysfunction.   Darkness emphasizes our insecurities, our worries, our negative contemplations, and in general, anything contrary to our positive nature.  Hate in itself cannot force the hand of humankind, rather it entices the worst of the human condition to become the prominent player in one’s overall life. 


Overcoming any negative emotion or thought pattern takes deliberate effort.  Children who are either taught or influenced to hate have a greater chance of changing their ideological viewpoints, than someone who has reached adulthood.  Sadly, adults who have hate as the foundation of their personal character; are all too often imprisoned by their hate.  Hate is the ultimate virus, infecting the very essence of the person.  However, hate is not a totalitarian regime, and fortunately because of human resiliency, hate can be overcome.  Overcoming hate starts with the individual.  Through a deliberate and conscious effort on the part of the individual, hate can be eliminated from the mind and very conscious of that individual. 

The Steps to Overcoming Hate  

  1. Unconditional Acceptance:  Accept as though you were the recipient.  Do not place acceptance in a fish bowl, otherwise you are always limiting the amount with which you offer your hand. 
  2. Unconditional Forgiveness:  When you forgive, forgive.  Do not shelter hateful thoughts, otherwise you have not allowed your unconscious and conscious minds to be free of the negative event or person. 
  3. Unconditional Love:  Unconditional love knows no rights or wrongs.  Unconditional love says, I will love you beyond all words, deeds, actions, or reactions.  It is the sort of love that a father or mother should have for their child.  This sort of love is not offered up only in the good times, but excels to be exhibited in the bad times. 
  4. Review your thought patterns.  How do you perceive the world around you?  What are the guidelines with which you judge your corner of the world?  Are you hyper critical of others?  Do you wear your emotional sleeve on your shoulder?  Do you see yourself as better than or superior to others?  If so, reevaluate your thought patterns, and consciously make an effort to eliminate them from your mindset.  Be a good steward of your thoughts, and helpful steward of your children’s thoughts. 
  5. Move Forward: Do not be combative with the negative event or person, rather consciously drive your virtual mind down an opposite path of positivity.  Therefore, intentionally seeking positive messages, images, and solutions for your life. 
  6. Be Diverse:   Be a model of diversity; teach your children through your verbal and nonverbal messages to be diverse.  Allow them to see you positively interact with others of cultural and gender diversities.  Do not limit your friendships, your acquaintances, or your associates to one cultural paradigm. 
  7. Challenge Negative Thought Patterns:  Be willing to consciously and unconsciously challenge thoughts that are skewed or indifferent to others.  Question, the why behind your biases or subtle discriminatory thoughts. 
  8. Correct Negative Thoughts in Your Children:  If you become privy of a negative thought that your children may hold; be diligent to help your children to review their negative or hateful thoughts, replacing them with a more positive ideological viewpoint. 
  9. Be a Proponent of Positivity:  Everyone deserves a right to live in a positively influential environment.
  10. Offering an Environment of Safety and Care:  The environment with which care and safety are provided should make a profound difference. 

When there is hate, a child’s right of safety and care is breached.  Schools should intentionally and purposefully foster an environment of safety and care.  When a school avoids advocating for its children, it extinguishes their individual rights.  It is vital to recognize that “All students are harmed by being in a school environment where discriminatory behavior is allowed, not just those students who are singled out for such harassment and victimization.”  (Wieland, 2007, p. 241)  Children should always be provided an environment of unconditional love, acceptance, and approval.  Remember, what occurs in one’s childhood is often indicative of things to come.   If we avoid addressing messages of hate in childhood, then there is little deterrence for children from amplifying the same messages of hate in their adulthood.

Helping your children to recognize the verbal and nonverbal messages is critical for combating the hate.  Be certain to teach your children to recognize the key features of hateful and violent messages; whether they are communicated verbally or nonverbally; casted disparagingly through stereotypes, stigmas, guilt, or shame; it is essential to know and recognize when other’s are offering us platters of hate. 

“What are some general ways that hate speech can be used in the offline (or online) world? Sample responses: 

  • Calling people names based on their race, religion, national origin, disability, gender, sexual orientation, or any other type of group that is disenfranchised in our society
  • Saying things about people that are based on social identity stereotypes.”  (Common Sense Media, 2012, Online)

Children who are not taught to recognize the clutches of hate, will often fall prey unto such messages.  As parents and teachers, we are obligated to gird up the loins of our children to protect them from the possibility of harm.  Moreover, it is equally important for children not only be taught to protect themselves, but to play a critical in offering positive lessons unto their classmates.  If so, such children will prove advocates not only for themselves, but for the lives of everyone they encounter.  

We must be hyper-vigilant when training our children.  As parents and teachers, we should keep a watchful eye out for danger and difficult times.  It should be expected that teachers and parents use due diligence to protect their children. 

Author:   Dr. Asa Don Brown, Ph.D., C.C.C.


American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, (4th ed., text rev.). Washington, D.C.: Author

Barnes, A. & Ephross, P. H. (2012) The impact of hate violence on victims, Emotional and behavioral responses to attacks.  Retrieved September 22, 2012 from

Common Sense Media (2012) Lesson: Breaking down hate speech. Retrieved September 22, 2012 from

Wieland, J. (2007) Peer-on-Peer hate crime and hate-motivated incidents involving children in California’s public schools:  Contemporary issues in prevalence, response and prevention.  UC Davis Journal of Juvenile Law & Policy 11(2), 235-269

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

8 comments on “The Effect of Hate on Children”

  1. Tracy says:

    Thank you Dr Brown for these enlightening words. Hate is so destructive and corrosive. It is a great reminder that hate grows from the morals and beliefs of a child’s home. It is so vital to remember that our children are little information sponges and we plant the seeds for their views of the world around them. We need to take a good look at our own beliefs and views and consider if they match what we want to teach our children or do we have to make a conscience effort to change our own mindset about the world around us. With all the information available to us with the media, TV and internet we need to be smart consumers of this information and always confirm our sources are accurate and reliable.

    Thank you again Dr Brown.


    1. Dear Tracy,

      Thank you for taking the time to review and reply to my latest article. I fully agree that “hate is so destructive and corrosive,” it is the mire that bogs down the individual (s) ability to thrive.

      Furthermore, you are correct that “We need to take a good look at our own beliefs and views and consider if they match what we want to teach our children or do we have to make a conscience effort to change our own mindset about the world around us.”

      Tracy, I am sincerely appreciative of your thoughtful remarks.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  2. This is most interesting and it does help to lay out the various aspects of ‘hate’ and steps that I think are accepted generally would ameliorate the terrible effects of ‘hate’ (whether consciously or uncosciously expressed) on children. Nearly all of the teachers I work with would agree with all of this and I will certainly pass this on too help people understand the nature of steps we might take to change the situation. I have only one problem with a list like this – that is what is termed the ‘neurotic paradox’. If it were as easy as telling someone what they must ‘do’ to change themselves (or the situation/context) – then we would have ‘cured’ many people many times over. Unfortunately, the neurotic paradox tells us that the forces within an individual that persist in driving hate behaviour are often deep seated and serve a purpose within that person. They may agree with all of the above and want to change but still continue their line of behaviour. This is often a very long process and may even involve something completely outside the therapeutic context to generate a change – although a therapist may help and support the move towards such a change.

    Thank you for your words they have enriched the debate and I hope we have good hope based on a positive view of the outcomes no matter how long it may take.

    1. Dear Dr. John Cornwall,

      I am sincerely appreciative of your time and recent response. I fully agree that not “all” disorders or diagnostic issues are “curable” or simply eliminated by thought. There are many situations that longterm treatment and/or medications are necessary. Furthermore, rarely have events, thoughts, or issues evolved overnight. Therefore, just like the issue that has been created over time, so will the therapeutic care take time to help the client / patient to recover from their problems.

      Dr. Cornwall, I am sincerely appreciative of your thoughtful remarks.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  3. Thank you for your contribution. We need to hear more hopeful words, especially when we look at the emerging generation.

    1. Dear Elleen Watters,

      I am sincerely appreciative of your time, review, and kind comments. I wholeheartedly agree that our “society” and “global community” need “…to hear more hopeful words especially when we look at the emerging generation.” We have become a generation of doubtful thoughts and negative thinking. We need to once again become hopeful and inspired.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  4. Linda Thompson says:

    Dear Dr. Asa Don Brown – bravo for another great article on a very important topic – the spectrum of words we assign to demonstrations of affection (positive or negative) from the highest form of love (agape) all the way down to hate (enraged). From a psychotraumatological healing perspective; reaching that place of trust to engage, dissipate, work-through and release containers of thwarted fight/flight or faint/freeze responses gathered during survivorship is some of the most rewarding work I have experienced personally & professional to date. To this end, the advances in the neurosciences and trauma treatment, such at that which I learned via CFTRE and to date; I invite and celebrate with my clients – that day – when we can face the container to dissipate and release these reactions held deeply within. There are gifts to be had – born out of anger and rage. The depth of the instinct and unconscious (procedural memory) is as vast and deep as any ocean indeed. A special thanks for broaching this subject matter. Regards Linda

    1. Dear Dr. Linda Thompson,

      I am sincerely appreciative of your time and feedback. It is vitally important that we find positive spectrums with which to conduct ourselves as therapists. When we are working with those who have been traumatized; or have had made stressors; it is gravely important that we provide a platform of “hope.” Without hope; we feel desperate, isolated, hunger, having a life of void. With hope; we are capable of moving mountains and shaking the foundations of uncertainty.

      Once you choose hope, anything’s possible. 

      ~ Christopher Reeve

      Linda, thank you for taking the time to review and offer your positive perspective.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *