A migrant advocacy group has warned that Irish children are becoming increasingly racist, as figures show almost one in every five cases of racial abuse is perpetrated by under 18s.
The graphic finding is contained in the Immigrant Council of Ireland’s (ICI) annual Racist Incident Statistics for 2013.
According to the document, a total of 144 cases of racism were reported to the ICI over the past 12 months, up 85% on the 78 incidents highlighted in 2012.
However, despite the shocking rise, ICI chief executive Denise Charlton said the most worrying trend is the increase in racism among young people, with almost one in every five cases being instigated by children and teens.
The figures show that during 2013 a total of 17% of racist abuse perpetrators and 8% of victims were under the age of 18, the youngest of whom was just three years old.
School holidays were the “peak period” for racist abuse, with verbal and written attacks the most common form of incident (52%), followed by discrimination (24%) and physical violence (9%).
“The detailed breakdown of our 2013 figures highlights a number of areas of concern, in particular the involvement of young people both as victims and perpetrators, with periods around school holidays now representing the busiest period for our frontline services,” Ms Charlton said.
“It is worth noting that July was by far the busiest month, with 31 incidents, while other periods corresponded with mid-term around Halloween, with 18 reports in November, and St Patrick’s Day, when 15 reports were received in March.
“To ignore this trend amongst our young people is not only wrong but dangerous. Students, parents and teachers all have a role to ensure racism is kept out of our classrooms, playgrounds and sporting arenas,” she added.
The ICI said it is essential that existing anti-bullying school policies, which every facility is obliged to implement, also include specific measures to tackle racism.
The ICI previously drew up a draft policy on the issue to assist schools, teachers and parents.
* A mother from Africa said her three-year-old daughter was physically assaulted by an adult at pre-school. The mother, who said ethnicity was a factor, reported the incident to gardaí.
* A 13-year-old girl of African extraction is suicidal after being verbally assaulted at her school by a pupil, who told her to “go back where she comes from”. The girl refuses to go back to school as she is afraid the issue could get worse and wrote a letter “where she expressed her wish to die or start her life over again”.
Via Irish Examiner (By Fiachra Ó Cionnaith, Irish Examiner Reporter)
The ICI draft policy document highlights the procedure that schools should follow to draft an anti-discrimination policy based on the following headings: identification, reporting, support, sanctioning, trends, roles and responsibilities. Preventative measures are also suggested in order to promote the appreciation for diversity.
SIRIUS now has two new partners in Ireland: The Integration Centre and New Communities Partnership. The ICI statistics show that they have plenty of work to do to improve the situation in Irish schools and make students, teachers and parents aware of the importance of eliminating anti-discrimination and thus improving the experience of young people with a migrant background in the educational system and society in general.
The European Network against Racism has also just started to collaborate with SIRIUS, and their Irish branch (of which ICI, The Integration Centre and New Communities Partnership are all parnters) are running a website called iReport which enables people, communities and organisations in Ireland to document incidents of a racist nature that occur nationwide. In the 1st quarterly report for July-September 2013, it showed that 14% of the victims of racist incidents are under the age of 18.