UK schools have recorded incidents that brand children as young as three years old as racists, homophobes and bigots over playground slurs.
Teachers have begun reporting students for apparent hate crimes after their use of playground taunts as ‘Chinese boy’, ‘Somalian’ and ‘gay’. Insults such as ‘doughnut’, ‘fat bucket of KFC’ and even calling a fellow pupil a ‘girl’ have also been recorded as abuse, writes Sarah Harris of The Daily Mail.
About 4,000 students from schools in 13 council areas have been reported, with the details being transferred to local education authorities and Ofsted inspectors who assess the faculty’s ability to deal with bullying incidents. Reports regarding the student’s behavior can be conveyed on to their next school, threatening to distort their image through their period of secondary education.
The latest available statistics (2012-2013) show that around 4,348 incidents were reported to local education authorities. Out of the 1,909 age specified incidents, more than half were by children in primary schools and four were from nursery schools.
Details of bullying incidents are recorded and shared by type, and anonymously. This allows for a better tackling of the situation and promotes the development of assemblies and programs over particular topics if needed.
Civil liberties campaigners have forewarned severe consequences if the practices of discriminating children as ‘bigots’ continues.
Josie Appleton of the civil liberties group Manifesto Club requested schools to regulate the incidents reported with greater care and understanding.
“Particularly worrying is the expansion of incident recording and reporting to ever-greater categories of prejudice, which seem limited only by the strange imagination of education officials. One primary school pupil calling another a girl suddenly becomes a sign of gender image prejudice, subjected to recording requirements more thorough than accompanying most burglaries. A reality check is urgently required.”
Regardless of the reporting of racist incidents in schools being recommended practice for local education authorities, the Coalition government has informed schools that it was not mandatory to submit such reports to LEAs and that they should enforce their one judgment in whether or not the act was of sufficient magnitude to require recording.
However, data released by the Manifesto Club – and gained under the Freedom of Information Act – revealed that reporting and recording has not been curbed, and in some cases, even expanded.
Adrian Hart, who analysed the data for the Manifesto Club, stated that five out of the thirteen Brighton primary schools he polled admitted that they would be passing on any prejudice related incidents to each student’s reports which were submitted to the next school they would attend. His data supports that it was ‘highly likely that thousands of incidents are being logged by schools across the country, regardless of whether their LEAs are requiring them to submit data or not’.
Conceding that there is value of children being taught the undesirability of taunting and labeling others with discriminating terms, the question remains whether the children are the actual culprits at the end of the day, writes Hugh Muir of The Guardian.
It is in the child’s highly impressionable nature to say things, but such actions do not call for an overreaction, says Muir. It is important to note how children pick such terms up from external sources such as during unsupervised surfing on the internet or watching television, but most often from adults around them who are also supposed to regulate their consumption of media.