Letters extra: Children learn their racial attitudes

29th June 2001 at 01:00

Allegations of racial segregation in church schools and polarisation in terms of Asian and white pupils in schools generally have been made about Oldham. Whatever the reason for this situation racism is surely a factor.

People are not born with the racist attitudes and behaviour that are part and parcel of the whole gamut of racism - such attitudes are learnt. Research shows that children usually learn their racial attitudes long before they go to school, often when they are as young as three.

Tackling racism must therefore include taking positive action to give all children the chance to consider their racial attitudes and behaviour at the earliest age, whether they are living in segregated areas or not.

The Report of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry stressed the need for sustained action to be taken in the preschool years. It is vital that everyone involved with children, including their families, take every opportunity to enable them to learn positive attitudes to differences between people and to unlearn any racist attitudes and behaviour that they have already learnt before negative attitudes become entrenched.nbsp;

Most people working in the early years understand and accept this strategy. What we need now is greater recognition and support from the wider community in addressing this critical issue.

Jane Lane
Coordinator Early Years Trainers Anti Racist Network

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