Let's beat bigotry

26th January 2007 at 00:00
As a result of recent media coverage arising from Celebrity Big Brother, Education Secretary Alan Johnson has said schools should do more to make clear that racism and bigotry are wrong. But 50 years' research evidence shows that such attitudes and behaviour start long before children go to school. Unless they get opportunities to learn to accept people's differences, many will learn to be racially prejudiced.

If Mr Johnson is serious, he should support and promote the pioneering work being done with pre-school children, both here and in Northern Ireland, to enable them to learn positive attitudes before the negative ones become entrenched. It is time we all took note of this research. Schools will then benefit from working with children who have already thought about and talked about these issues.

Jane Lane, Advocate worker for racial equality in the early years, Reading

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