Children who face racist bullying at school need support from teachers – but many don’t get it | Pro IQRA News

Children who face racist bullying at school need support from teachers – but many don’t get it

 | Pro IQRA News

Pro IQRA News Updates.

In the 2020-21 academic year, there were 1,198 reported cases of racially motivated bullying in Scottish schools – up from 409 in 2016-17. These are the highest numbers recorded to date.

My research, which my colleagues and I have conducted, explores the impact of racial bullying like this — bullying motivated by prejudice against someone’s race, ethnicity, culture, nationality, or religion.

We conducted what is known as a systematic review: examining existing research studies to look for trends and patterns. We’ve compiled the results of 73 existing research studies on racial bullying from around the world. We wanted to know more about what happens to young people who experience racial bullying.

We found that racial bullying increases the risk of poor mental health. It can cause loneliness and lead to children dropping out of school. It can lead to alcohol and substance abuse.

We also found that young people feel their teachers ignore prejudices and racial stereotypes. The way teachers handle complaints of racism can be critical to the mental health of children and young people.

You are trying to cope

Children and young people often try to deal with racist bullying by “filtering” incidents and carelessly trying to protect themselves. They try to make fun of him, hurling insults in a joking manner.

But 18 studies included in our review found that racial bullying contributes to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and feelings of anger. These effects have been found among adolescents and young children. In some cases, racist bullying can be so severe that it is associated with symptoms of PTSD and suicidal thoughts.

Our research found that there are several factors that can influence a child’s vulnerability to bullying because of their race or cultural identity.

Racial bullying is strongly influenced by racial, ethnic, and religious stereotypes that have arisen as a result of negative media portrayals of racial and religious minorities. For example, the media’s portrayal of refugees as illegal immigrants or “economic refugees”, who aim to take advantage of benefit systems, influences how children from immigrant backgrounds are treated at school.

Some children who have been bullied because of their race, ethnicity, or culture at school report experiencing racism and discrimination in other situations, such as by strangers in public.

Signs of difference, such as speaking a native language at school, can also increase the risk of racist bullying. For example, one study reported that students who were using Spanish in a school in Texas, USA were told that they were “strangers” and that they should “go back to Mexico”.

Children and youth from ethnically diverse backgrounds are also more likely to face racial bullying in schools where they are in a minority. The numerical difference only serves to highlight the imbalance of power between the ethnic and cultural majority and minorities.

The role of schools

The school environment can make a difference. A study included in our review found that students were less likely to experience racial bullying in schools where teachers showed support for cultural diversity. These findings show the important role teachers play in promoting positive intercultural relationships, inclusion, and reducing bias.

However, the most disturbing finding that emerged from our research was that young people did not feel supported by their teachers. In 16 studies included in our review, six of which were conducted in the UK, young people and parents reported feeling teachers rejected racial bias or stereotypes.

Recent work by the Scottish charity, the Alliance for Racial Equality and Rights, supports this finding. It shows that only 17% of schools in Scotland recorded one or more racially motivated bullying incidents during 2020-2021. Given that 61% of schools did not report bullying of any kind at all, bullying in schools is likely to be overlooked.

Children and youth who are bullied because of their race or culture may feel that their teachers have double standards in handling incidents. In one study in Austria, an eight-year-old said that when ethnic majority children complained of bullying, they were taken seriously, whereas when he was bullied it would be dismissed as “just playing”. This suggests a link between institutional racism – the school’s attitude towards children – and the racial bullying they experienced from their peers.

Schools must have clear policies against racial bullying to protect the mental health and educational development of children and youth from minority groups. But no policy will be effective without addressing systemic racism within schools. This means acknowledging the lack of diversity among teachers, curricula, and attitudes that are prevalent in schools and in the wider community.