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Dark-Skinned Danger

A police-issued coloring book teaches Czech children a lesson about adults’ fears. by Barbara Frye 20 February 2014

What does a pedophile look like? Usually he’s a man, but beyond that physical traits are worthless predictors.

 

It’s probably safe to say, though, that in an overwhelmingly white country such as the Czech Republic, most pedophiles would be white.

 

 

That didn’t stop Czech police from handing out a children’s crime-prevention coloring book depicting a pedophile as an olive-skinned, dark-haired man. In the scene, he uses a lollipop to entice a young girl to follow him.

 

You don’t need to be told what ethnic group the image brings to mind (not Cuban, despite what a police spokeswoman helpfully hypothesized in response to a reporter’s inquiry). Although there are probably many more, in the country’s most recent census, only 13,150 people – from a population of 10.4 million – identified themselves as Roma. The numbers alone suggest that Mr. Lollipop is more likely to be white.

 

The pedophile cartoon appears to be the only time the swarthy man appears in the book, while in each appearance the cute, fireplug-shaped police officer is a white man.

 

“It doesn’t make the least bit of sense. It just teaches children to think with prejudices, reflexively,” Martin Simacek, the director of the government’s agency for social inclusion, told Lidove noviny, a Czech daily.

 

After taking heat on the book, including from some teachers, police are working on a redesign, according to the newspaper.

Barbara Frye is TOL's managing editor.
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