Who's the bad guy?

25th September 1998 at 01:00
Surveys, studies and reports examined by Reva Klein

English children as young as nine still regard Germans as enemies while in Greece, five to nine-year-olds single out Turks, Albanians and Gypsies as foes.

In interviews conducted with 150 five, seven and nine-year-olds in Greece and 21 in York, Sevasti Paida found that Greek children thought of enemies mainly as warriors who attacked other countries. They particularly referred to Turks, with whom Greeks have had many conflicts.

English children identified wartime enemies in terms of ancient history, although Germans were singled out as hereditary foes. The children from York, all aged nine, portrayed their country's history as a series of bloody events. There was no reference to people of different cultures living together peacefully.

People who were ethnically different were also often seen as being threatening.

Ms Paida says schools should be challenging pupils' prejudices more.

The image of the enemy among young children by Sevasti Paida, The Centre for Global and International Education, York University YO1 5DD. Tel: 01904 433443

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