THE BLOG

Tackling the Menace of Hate and Extremism in our Schools

28/01/2014 13:52 GMT | Updated 30/03/2014 10:59 BST

Ample coverage has been afforded to so called Islamist extremism fuelled by a few individuals, media and some politicians. Racism and Islamophobia continue to exist and yet very little is done about this menace. Some politicians have advocated that this is no longer a problem. Others have used the argument that legislation is in place to deal with racism, hence we need to move on.

Let's just look at two reports one in 2009 and another in 2013 that clearly indicated worrying pattern's of racism still exist. These reports should have sent alarm bells ringing from the corridors of Westminster to the Department of Education and to all others charged with the safety and well being of our nation and children. The reports highlight a worrying issue involving hate in school, an area that should be a key priority for government.

Schools are places of learning, development, sharing and moulding our youth. They have a significant part to play in who we may become or what our society may aspire to be. If racism, Islamophobia and hatred continue to exist in schools, society will inherit these problems for the future. I am not just talking of one report nor is it the first such occasion that reports have indicated racism towards BME students.Undoubtedly other forms of hatred are also present but the bigger problem is that of racism and Islamophobia.

Racism and Islamophobia can fuel an environment for radicalised and extremist ideals to develop, the growth of the far right is testament to this. Children without the right guidance are vulnerable and can easily be led down the wrong avenue. So what has been done about this over the years?

I am not sure much has changed over the years apart from the repeatedly bland statements by some politicians, and quite frankly that it is unacceptable.

The 2009 a Teachers TV report revealed nearly half of teachers said that racist bullying is a problem in their schools. Two thirds claimed their schools had implemented no policy on such bullying, and many worried about religious intolerance. One in five said they were aware of Islamophobia in their schools, and some of those who said racist bullying was a problem also informed that teachers had been targeted.

In 2013, a report from ChildLine revealed more than 1,400 children and young people contacted them for counselling about racist bullying, an increase of 69 per cent on the previous 12 months. Islamophobia is a particular issue in schools, according to the charity, with young Muslims reporting that they are being called "terrorists" and "bombers" by classmates.

James Kingett, of the charity Show Racism The Red Card (SRTRC) which seeks to combat racism, said: "We work with around 50,000 young people every year and issues around Islamophobia have been very prevalent over the past 12 to 18 months.

Mr Kingett added: "We are doing work on the impact of far-right groups such as the English Defence League on children's perceptions. Often children are picking up language at home and from parents and taking that to be fact. The rhetoric at the moment around immigration is incredibly pervasive".

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "No child should have to suffer the fear and victimisation of bullying. Every school must have measures in place by law to prevent it and, thanks to our new curriculum; children will soon be taught how to stay safe online, including cyber-bullying, from the age of five.'' In addition to this, Children's minister Delyth Morgan said racism in schools was "completely unacceptable".

By just looking at these two reports, I would have thought that the government and department of education would be looking at a major strategy to deal with the problem rather than relying on enforcement. Prevention is better than cure, there is evidence that the media and politicians have a major impact on behavioural attitudes of children.

Where is the problem solving approach? Where are the prevention strategies? Where are the strategies to deal with the radicalisation of the students by far right and racists as indicated above? Have any of these individuals been highlight for early intervention or the channel deradicalisation programme? If not why not?

I suggest these reports have given us an insight of our priorities. We need to look at this with a long term view and with a fuller consultation than we have with some of our existing policies. Both the Government and Department of Education need to show a sense of urgency, and lead from the front.

It was extremely worrying to see Robinson invited into a school, although the school eventually cancelled his input. This is shocking and shows a level of ignorance that is difficult to fathom in 2014.Would we be considering a certain Anjum Choudhry to do like wise?