|BBC Asian Network today carries a report into racism and Islamophobic bullying at schools. An investigation by the BBC found that nearly 88,000 incidents of racist bullying were recorded in British schools between 2007 and 2011. The statistics were obtained from local authorities under a Freedom of Information request.|
From the BBC:
“School is finished for the day, but as on most evenings, 14-year-old Khadeja Fahat, is catching up on her school work.
“Since the year 9 pupil faced racist Islamaphobic abuse every day at her school in Wilmslow, Cheshire, her education has suffered along with her mental health.
“"I was tormented nearly every day; I was scared to go to school," said Khadeja.
“"I used to go to school thinking: what am I going to face today?
“"Is someone going to physically hurt me, or shout something at me or throw something at me?"
“She continued: "The other children would shout verbal abuse at me; I was called a terrorist and a Taleban and asked why I was behind 9/11.
“"Someone once shouted: “look at that girl, she has a bomb in her bag.”
“"I went from this happy girl who was always smiling and loved going to school and learning, to someone that didn't care about anything and just wanted each day to be over.
“"I didn't understand why I was being treated like this. I was the same as the other students, except that I wore a headscarf."
“According to anti-racism charities, there has been a rise in Islamophobia and racism in schools around the UK, and there are concerns that schools are not sure how to deal with it.
“Khadeja says the bullying not only affected her education but also her health.
“"I was so depressed and I lost weight because I just stopped eating, because I just didn't feel hungry.
“Khadeja's mother says the last straw came when her daughter was punched by another student."
Khadija’s mother says that the teachers “were overwhelmed and did not know how to deal with the situation.
“"She was being bullied by so many different kids from different years."
The article continues, “Khadeja has now moved to a new school where she is slowly settling in and making friends.
“But her education has taken a hit. Having missed three months of schooling, she is behind many of the other students in her year.
“But pupils like Khadeja are not alone.
“Anti-racism charities say that Islamophobia is a significant problem in schools in some areas around the country.
“Sarah Soyei, from the anti-racism charity, Show Racism the Red Card (SRRC) said: "We are seeing a growth in racist bullying towards Muslims students, and those from Roma, Gypsy and travelling communities.
“"The fear of terrorism and the growth of right wing groups like the English Defence League has contributed to a growth of Islamophobia in many classrooms around the country.
“"Young people can pick up racist behaviour from parents or friends and from not understanding certain situations.
“"But it is not about punishing very young children, it's about educating them so they can understand why these behaviours are wrong so they can change them," she added.
A further BBC News article looks specifically at the statistics on bullying, compiled using information from local authorities. It reveals that:
“Data from 90 areas shows 87,915 cases of racist bullying, which can include name calling and physical abuse.
“Following the inquiry into the murder of teenager Stephen Lawrence, the previous government said schools in England and Wales must monitor and report all incidents of racist abuse to their local authority.
“However, the coalition government has changed that guidance and schools now have no duty to record and report the data.
“Between 2007 and 2010 - the last year that heads had an obligation to record cases - recorded racist incidents in schools in England, Scotland and Wales rose from 22,285 to 23,971.
“Many areas including Luton, Oldham, Croydon, Bedford and Middlesbrough saw an increase of 40% or more over the period 2007/08 to 2009/10.
“In 2010/11, when the new reporting guidelines came into force, reported cases of racist bullying fell to 18,996.
“Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "These numbers are disappointingly high - we would really hope this is not the tip of the iceberg.”
Show Racism the Red Card has organised various events around the country to raise awareness about racism and Islamophobia, including training for teachers. Earlier this year, the government announced the group would receive £200,000 in funding to go towards educational workshops for young people as part of the government’s recently published Hate Crime Strategy. The workshops aim to “give young people opportunities to learn about the dangers of associating with right wing extremists; help young people to think critically about the issues; and empower them to refute and challenge anti-Muslim ideas.”
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