Posted on November 20, 2006

Surge In Racism At Schools Blamed On 7/7 And Veil Row

Daily Mail (UK), Nov. 20, 2006

Racist incidents in London schools have increased by 26 per cent in just one year. Attacks on Muslim children have increased since the 7/7 bombings and the debate about the wearing of the veil has prompted further incidents.

The figures include verbal and written insults, physical attacks and spreading racist material over the internet.

The incidents were not confined to pupils and included parents and staff, with at least one of the reported incidents being between two members of staff.

According to figures obtained by the Evening Standard using the Freedom of Information Act, the biggest jump was in Bromley where the number of racist incidents rose from 40 in the school year 2004-05 to 461 last year. Figures from the 25 councils that replied showed that citywide the number of incidents had increased from 4,066 to 5,126 in 2005-06.

Schools that recorded the ethnicity of those involved showed that the majority of pupils, both victims and perpetrators, were classed as white British or black African.

Professor Heidi Mirza, an expert in equality studies at the Institute of Education, University of London, said: “Islamophobia is a huge problem since the July bombings with Muslim children becoming the focus of abuse and Jack Straw’s comments about women wearing a veil, which is just guarded racism, has led to Muslim girls being taunted in the playground.

“Another issue is the gangs that children form which are almost always based on racial identity. It’s not just black and white. In some areas you will have Somalian gangs and then, say, Nigerian gangs.

“Several schools are very well integrated but a child’s racial identity will develop and they will become more aware of what politicians are saying and the deeper rot that exists.”

Following the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, all schools are required to address institutional racism, to prevent discrimination before it happens and to promote good relations.

Councils said the rise could be down to more incidents being reported. A spokesman for Hounslow, where reported case rose by 43 to 313, said: “We’ve worked hard to create an environment where people feel comfortable reporting incidents.”

Research carried out in September by the Institute for Policy Studies in Education at London Metropolitan University revealed that black teachers suffer abuse on a daily basis.

The only local authority that saw a fall in racist abuse was Ealing, which has been teaching the life story of US campaigner Rosa Parks and about Commonwealth soldiers in the Second World War.