Newsletter 5 Anti-Bullying Network
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Anti-Bullying InfoLine, 0131 651 6100

Racial Bullying: do we take it seriously enough?

It is important to start by saying that the majority of schools and teachers would wish to take seriously any form of bullying and this includes racial bullying. Bullying based on someone's colour, culture, ethnicity or nationality places the individual in a category, then abuses the category as well as the individual. Gillborn (1995) describes racist name calling as insulting not only to the individual, but their family and their culture. The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry has warned us not to be complacent. It reminds us of the important role education has in helping to educate and act against racism. It is important, however, to heed the warnings of academic researchers who state that studies of bullying or harassment in schools are often not designed to address racism as a major aspect of students' school lives and therefore if these studies do not pick up on racial issues, the lack of evidence of racism should not be interpreted as evidence of a lack of racism or indeed racial bullying.

Small-scale studies indicate that minority ethnic children are especially at risk of bullying. This bullying would appear to start at an early age. Small-scale action research done by three teachers in Central Region in the mid 1990s found attitudes of 'them and us'among primary pupils to be prevalent and strong. (Donald et al, 1995). A survey of perceptions and experiences of young black and white people in Glasgow (Hampton 1998) and research on the experiences of refugee children in Scottish schools (Closs, Stead and Arshad 1999) confirm that young people face racial bullying, name calling and experiences in school.

When young people were asked to identify strategies to deal with this, in the Hampton report, 60 of the 83 respondents (72%) aged between 12 -20 believed that a substantial degree of work needed to be done within schools for both teachers and pupils and that work had to begin at pre-primary level. This included developing staff awareness on racism, having procedures in place to challenge racism and supporting those who face racism. Many were cynical about anti-bullying policies, claiming many of these were paper policies and often produced without taking the pupil perspective into account. Most importantly though, respondents wanted more curricular activities, to educate young people about racism and to identify strategies to counter such racism.

Help us to build a database of practice in this area. CERES would like to hear from schools (nursery, primary, special and secondary) of strategies you have used to address racial incidents in your school, any curricular initiatives or any concerns you may have on the matter. To contact us, call 0131 651 6371 or e-mail

| Rowena Arshad, Director,
Centre for Education for Racial Equality in Scotland


Useful Reading
R Arshad, A Closs and J Stead (1999) Doing Our Best: Scottish School Education, Refugee Pupils and Parents - a strategy for social inclusion (Summary Report) £5+p&p. Available from: CERES, Faculty of Education, The University of Edinburgh, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh EH8 8AQ. Tel: 0131 651 6371
A Closs, J Stead and R Arshad (1999) The School Experience of Refugee Children in Scotland (Full Report) £10+p&p. Available from: Dr Joan Stead, ESSE, Faculty of Education, The University of Edinburgh, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh EH8 8AQ. Tel: 0131 651 6221. or you can access a synopsis of both the above papers here.
C Brown. et al. (1991) Spanner in the Works: Education for racial equality & social justice in white schools, Trentham Books
P Donald, S Gosling, and J Hamilton (1995) 'No Problem
Here?' Children's Attitudes to Race in a Mainly White Area. A
synopsis of this report is available here.
J Deegan. (1996) Children's Friendships in Culturally Diverse Class-rooms : Falmer Press
D Gillborn (1995) 'Racism and Anti-racism in Real Schools'Open University Press
K Hampton (1998) Youth and Racism: Perceptions and Experiences ofYoung People in Glasgow, Scottish Ethnic Minorities Re-search Unit: Glasgow Caledonian University
I Macdonald (1989) Murder in the Playground: The Burnage Report, Longsight Press