Racism 'worse' in secondary

10th June 2005 at 01:00
Black and minority ethnic children moving from primary to secondary school find an increase in racism among their peers, a study has disclosed.

The Glasgow Centre for the Child and Society (GCCS) at Glasgow University, which carried out the study, says that hardly any young people reported racism by their secondary teachers and the majority felt that their culture and religion was respected.

However, most of those interviewed said that peer racism was worse. And many felt less confident about confiding in teachers.

The study, which examined the experiences of black and minority ethnic young people following the transition to secondary school, involved interviews with 56 young people in S1 and S2 about their experiences, as well as with 19 parents and education staff.

The authors, Catriona Caulfield and Malcolm Hill, of the GCCS, and Anita Shelton, of the Glasgow Anti-Racist Alliance, say most children coped well with the move. Peer relations were central to the process and usually new friendships were formed with schoolmates from both the same and different ethnic backgrounds as their own.

Apart from finding that peer racism was greater in secondary, the study also discovered that it increased after the early months in S1. Common responses to verbal racism were ignoring, explaining and joking.

Teachers were seen by young people to have a key role in dealing with racist incidents but were often described as ineffective. The authors suggest that better support is needed from guidance staff.

They say current training on equality issues, statistical monitoring and anti-discriminatory practice appear insufficient to equip teachers with the skills necessary to deal with such issues and needs extending in scope.

Children found it easier to approach friends and fellow pupils about racism and bullying. The report observes: "Developing forums for peer mediation within schools, such as bullying groups and the like, would perhaps capitalise on this.

"Young people in the study valued initiatives such as Show Racism the Red Card and TAG Theatre plays. These provisions, as well as others tailored to the Scottish context, could be offered regularly as part of all schools'

personal and social education curriculum."

The study follows earlier surveys of children in P7 and S1 on the processes and programmes involved in the transition to secondary school. Most children generally adjusted quickly and well, the report states.

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