To comply with the provisions of the 2000 Race Relations Act, schools in Britain find themselves forced to log and report “racist” incidents between children as young as four years old, The Telegraph reports. Teachers must keep track of the details of each incident, as well as the names of children involved. The information is then passed along to the local education authorities and can be obtained and used by the police. Reports can even follow children as they transfer schools and can be kept on file for years.
According to the data obtained by a civil liberties group the Manifesto Club via a Freedom of Information Request, educators around the country report up to 100 bias incidents per day. That added up to 34,000 such incidents over the 2009-2010 school year, with 20,000 of reports originating from primary schools.
The Daily Mail first reported on the issue in January of 2011, after Adrian Hart released a report based on The Manifesto Club’s data. The report found that the majority of problems involved namecalling, although 51 incidents did require police attention. Birmingham City Council had the highest number of total incidents logged with 1,607 while the area with the most police call-outs was Hertfordshire with 38.
The report shows that only 15 local education authorities had logged any incidents of homophobia. Nearly 30% of those were from Barnet, North London.
Hart, who authored the Manifesto Club report, said those kinds of rigid record-keeping requirements were misguided and showed a lack of understanding by lawmakers about how kids interact with each other:
“Racist incident reporting generates the illusion of a problem with racism in Britain’s schools by trawling the everyday world of playground banter, teasing, childish insults – the sort of things that every teacher knows happens out there in the playground.”