Jewish pupils at risk, minister admits

6th March 2009 at 00:00
She pledges statutory duty on schools to record bullying incidents following rise in anti-Semitic attacks

Jewish children are "particularly vulnerable" to bullying, Sarah McCarthy-Fry, the junior schools minister, admitted last week.

Her comment came as community groups released figures showing a steep rise in the number of anti-Semitic attacks in schools.

The minister was responding to a parliamentary question about what measures the Government was taking to protect Jewish pupils from abuse. Ms McCarthy-Fry replied in a written answer: "We do not collect data on bullying or incidents of intimidation centrally, although we are aware that Jewish pupils can be particularly vulnerable to bullying.

"We intend to introduce a new statutory duty on schools to record all incidents of bullying between pupils later this year, and will specifically consult on whether schools should be obliged to record racist incidents."

Her comments were based on last month's annual report from Community Security Trust, a Jewish advice bureau. The report showed that 2008 saw the third-highest annual total of anti-Semitic incidents recorded since the trust started collating individual cases in 1984.

There were 50 cases in 2008 involving Jewish schools or Jewish schoolchildren being targeted by anti-Semitic attacks, up 6 per cent on the previous year. "Bullying and racism is a problem that affects children of all ethnic backgrounds," said a trust spokesperson. "It is certainly a concern for the Jewish community, and it has been an ongoing problem for Jewish children for as far back as you can go."

The rise in anti-Semitic bullying has coincided with a wider increase in anti-Jewish abuse since Israel's recent attack on Gaza.

Two weeks ago, a teenage boy was given a five-year anti-social behaviour order and a six-month referral order by Hendon magistrates, in north-west London, after he verbally abused a group of Jewish children as they travelled home from school.

The 16-year-old was banned from using some bus routes following an incident in which he approached pupils from the JFS, a Jewish comprehensive in Kenton, calling the boys "Jewish scum" and the girls "slags".

In Birmingham, police are investigating an incident in which a 20-strong gang chanted "Kill all Jews" and "Death to Jews" at a 12-year-old girl making her way home from school.

Eden Simones-Jones, the only Jewish pupil at Moseley School, said she was grabbed by the hair while her attacker shouted, "Fucking Jews, I hate Jews."

  • 50 - Cases last year in which Jewish schools or pupils were the targets of attack.

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