This article discusses an alarming increase in racist bullying, including xenophobia and Islamophobia, at school level in the UK during the year 2012-2013. The article links racism and xenophobia at school level to a rising political hostility towards the immigrants. It also provides the latest statistics on the number of students seeking professional help against racist bullying at school, the ratio of male/female students calling ChildLine, the inadequate and inappropriate methods applied by schools (in general) to address the issue and the various steps taken by the Department of Education to introduce strict policies and procedures to eradicate the issue. It also provided narratives of a few students suffering from racist bullying, abstracted from ChildLine counseling sessions.
Racism and racist bullying at school level is neither a new phenomenon, nor is it ethnocentric. It is a social issue applying to all societies, regardless of the population demography, level of education and literacy in the country or the economic growth of the country/region. “According to a recent study conducted by Swedish economists, many of the world’s most racially intolerant countries are located in the developing world.” (Borgen). Racism and racist bullying within the confines of school in such countries is exhibited based on the Caste system and skin color (in case of South Asia) and based on roots.
The recent death of a 20 year old student hailing from the state of Arunachal Pradesh in New Delhi in February 2014 and the fact that, “The fledgling North East Support Centre and Helpline says it handles 15 to 20 distress calls from victims and witnesses of racial assaults each month,” clearly demonstrates racial discrimination and bullying at a global level (Dugan). Further examples would be the discrimination of the scheduled castes in India against jobs, marriage rights and at schooling level, discrimination against Jordanians with Palestinian ancestry. In college admissions in Jordan, racial violence in Nigeria due to hate crimes committed against non-indigenous Nigerians, inter-provincial based and religion-based racial discrimination in Pakistan, xenophobia between the people of China and Indonesia and China-Indonesia ancestry-based feud.
As a remedial precaution, the article quotes a statement made by a spokesperson at the UK Department of Education. The methods suggested by the Department involve the introduction of a new curriculum and training and empowering teachers to confiscate any racially discriminating material (whether in paper or electronic form) and give out detentions to student engaged in racial bullying. I believe that this cannot be taken as a long-term solution as leading educational lawyer Salima Mawji had also stated,
"Severe sanctions on perpetrators, such as permanent exclusion, do not address the racist nature of that individual. It simply makes the issue another school’s problem. Sanctions imposed on students for racist abuse should involve an education on why racism is not and will not be tolerated in society." (Sherriff)
The article also mentions the reluctance of several students to speak about their experiences of racial bullying due to a fear of making the matter worse. I think that this issue can be resolved on the basis of training and empowerment of teachers and by creating awareness amongst the general public and encouraging students susceptible to racial attacks to speak up and report such incidents to the concerned authorities (school administration or any higher authority), without any fear of apprehension.
Dugan, Emily. “Racist Bullying: far-right Agenda on immigration ‘being taken into classrooms’”The Independent (08 January 2014).
“Racism in Developing Countries Widespread.”- Borgen International. And “Student’s Death and India’s Racism Debate” –Al Jazeerah (19 February 2014)
Sherriff, Lucy. “Nearly 88000 Racist Incidents Reported In Schools” –The Huffington Post.
(23 May 2012)