Vincent Uzomah says he forgives the young person, but questions what the incident says about wider society and what can be done to stop such behaviour
“There are a broad base of stereotypical ideas and attitudes about people who are presented as the ‘other’. We are seeing a massive amount of anti-Muslim hatred and anti-immigration sentiment in schools and that is facilitated by some of the commentary in the media"
Laura Pidcock, North East Education Manager, Show Racism the Red Card
Image courtesy of The Mirror
A 14 year old boy from Bradford has been sentenced to 11 years in detention after he stabbed a supply teacher. The boy racially abused the father-of-three before stabbing him with a kitchen knife he had brought to school.
The incident has once again raised questions not only about safety within schools, but also about the issue of racism in the classroom.
Show Racism the Red Card (SRtRC), the UK’s anti-racism education charity regularly work with both young people and teachers to explore issues of racism; helping young people to think critically about information in order that they are able to deconstruct concepts which may contribute to the development of racist ideas and attitudes, and working with teachers to develop ways of exploring issues of racism and prejudice in a safe and non-judgemental way.
Laura Pidcock, Education Manager for SRtRC in the North East of England, spoke at length about the issue of racism within schools, drawing on the experiences of Education Workers from the charity and addressing some of the underlying factors that contribute towards the development of racist ideas among young people.
“There are a broad base of stereotypical ideas and attitudes about people who are presented as the ‘other’. We are seeing a massive amount of anti-Muslim hatred and anti-immigration sentiment in schools and that is facilitated by some of the commentary in the media; language which is dehumanising about people who are migrants or about people who are presented as ‘other’ only serves to compound those feelings that people might already have”.
Show Racism the Red Card believes that no teachers should ever find their physical safety or emotion wellbeing at risk as part of their work with young people, and recognises the enormous pressure placed on teachers within the education system to address the many societal factors that influence the developing attitudes of young people.
Young people must be responsible for their behaviour and their actions but must also be provided with the opportunity to have their voices heard in a safe and constructive way. Simply suppressing developing ideas as wrong or inappropriate does not have the effect of changing attitudes but rather can lead to growing resentment and hostility among young people.
It is only through engaging young people in discussion that we can identify the source of influencing factors and as Vincent Uzomah puts it, correct the societal drift that is enabling incidents like this to take place.