Racist bullying on the rise in British schools

May 23, 2012
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The BBC reports today that almost 88,000 incidents of racist bullying were reported in British schools between 2007 and 2011. The Government has now said that keeping the statistics – which had been mandatory for all schools – is now no longer required. Over the period, recorded incidents of racism rose from 22,285 to 23,971 and areas including Luton, Oldham, Croydon, Bedford and Middlesbrough saw a 40% rise. Birmingham and Leeds recorded the highest number of incidents. Authorities say that the rise is due to better reporting as opposed to more actual incidents of racism in our schools. But clearly the number is unacceptable, and anti racism charities say that it is a growing problem in some areas, pointing particularly to a growth in Islamaphobia in society as a whole.

Bullying generally – whether racist or otherwise – is a problem for many school children. In the worst cases, it can lead to physical assaults or a real fear of harm and can profoundly affect children psychologically, sometimes long into adulthood. What can kids and their parents or guardians do about this? Clearly they should engage with the school authorities and take them to task over measures they should have in place to prevent bullying. Schools should have anti bullying policies and they should be adhering to them. If bullying is serious, then my advice would be to contact the police, whether or not the bullying is occurring on or off school premises. This may lead to a criminal prosecution of the bullies.

Obtaining compensation for bullying is not straight forward. If your child has been the victim of a criminal act of violence, then an application to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority should be made within 2 years of the assault. The police would normally have to have been involved and the incident(s) reported to them. Your child is likely also to have a claim through the civil courts for compensation from the bullies themselves where they have been assaulted (genuinely felt they would be harmed) or the victim of battery (where they have been physically assaulted). However the bullies – as kids – are unlikely to have any assets to make it worthwhile suing them. The school authorities may be liable in negligence if you can prove that they knew about the bullying and failed to do anything about it, and the school’s standard of care fell below a reasonable standard (such that no other reasonable school would have allowed the bullying to continue). These are often very difficult cases to bring and as each case is different, parents and guardians should seek specialist legal advice.

The main thing is to get support. There are lots of organisations out there for concerned parents, young people and teachers and schools. Try http://www.kidscape.org.uk/ or a quick Google search for anti-bullying charities should come up trumps.

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