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Racist incidents rising in Scottish schools

Racist incidents rising in Scottish schools

Categories: Latest News

Tuesday January 20 2015

Glasgow’s local paper, Evening Times, reports on the increase in the number of racist incidents in the city’s schools.

Figures released to the local paper under a Freedom of Information request to Glasgow City Council shows that the number of racially aggravated assaults increased by 155% since 2010, from 18 cases to 46 cases last year.

The overall increase in racist incidents between 2010 and 2014 is 13%.

The paper also discloses figures for neighbouring councils in Scotland.

“North Lanarkshire, recorded the biggest rise of 28%, up from 21 in 2010/11 to 27 last year.

“East Renfrewshire, which boasts some of the top performing state schools in the country, recorded a 23% rise in racially motivated incidents”, up from 47 in 2010 to 58 in 2014. The increase in East Renfrewshire, greater than Glasgow which has 10 times as many schools, is particularly alarming given the growth in the size of the Muslim population in the region and opposition experienced over mosque planning proposals involving council property next to one of the best performing schools in the country. A parents’ group was among those opposing the planning proposals submitted by the East Renfrewshire Mosque and Community Centre.

West Dunbartonshire recorded a 25% rise in racial incidents in schools, from 20 in 2010 to 25 in 2014.

East Dunbartonshire, South Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire Council all recorded a drop in racially aggravated attacks falling by 22%, 23% and 35% respectively.

The Evening Times also published an article featuring the case of a former Muslim pupil at a Glasgow school who recounted her bullying experiences at the hands of fellow pupils and a teacher.

The woman who is now 23, is mixed race with a Pakistani father and a Scottish mother. She told the local paper about incidents she had experienced at school:

“On one occasion, when I was in the playground, this girl kicked me on the ankles. I was trying to get away from her and she pulled my Hijab down and poured a packet of crisps on my hair.

“Then she said: ‘You’re able to show your hair now. Go and wash it.’

“I felt humiliated. It was significant to me because the Hijab represents my faith and it’s about modesty for girls in Islam.

“But I didn’t even tell the teachers. I went straight home and as soon as I saw my mum I broke down crying.

“After that I found myself not wanting to wear the Hijab and I’ve never worn a Hijab since.

“Another incident, which happened before that, was when I actually got told by a teacher to take off my Hijab.

“She said it as she was handing out books. She said: ‘could you please take your scarf off.’

The steady rise in the number of racist and Islamophobic incidents in British schools was reported in a BBC Asian Network programme in 2012 relating figures released by local councils under FOI. The BBC found that nearly 88,000 incidents of racist bullying were recorded in British schools between 2007 and 2011.

The national children’s charity NSPCC and Childline released figures last year about the number of counselling cases it had dealt with over 2013 stating it had seen an 69% increase in racist bullying in that year.

The SNP’s education spokeswoman and Glasgow City Councillor, Mhairi Hunter, told the local paper that words used by politicians when addressing issues of race and immigration have a clear impact saying, “For me, this also reinforces the need for high profile politicians to be careful about the language they use about immigration and race and to remember their words have an impact in real life.”

Among areas to be criticised in the Government’s response to rising racism and Islamophobia is its failure to allocate adequate resources to tackling prejudicial attitudes among young people. The Childline report noted that “a common theme was for young people to be called a “terrorist” or a “bomber”, and be told “go back to where they came from”. These constant insults left many young people feeling upset, insecure and frustrated.”

In its 2012 Hate Crime Strategy the Government allocated £250,000 to Show Racism the Red Card “to run educational workshops to empower them [young people] to refute and challenge anti-Muslim hatred”. But there is little evidence of it having done much more since.


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