Recent figures have revealed that within and around educational facilities such as colleges and schools, hate crime has risen by 62% in the last year. There have even been reports of primary children as young as six committing racially and religiously motivated hate crimes. As the current political climate continues to infect our young people with bigotry and hatred, is this the future we can expect for our children?
71% of hate crimes reported within schools and colleges were motivated based on race and ethnicity. The report also highlighted other motivating factors for discrimination and bigotry which were religious beliefs (9%), sexual orientation (9%), disability (10%) and transgender identity (1%). The figures have also shown that on average, 5 offenses occurred on each school day in the last academic year.
As revealed in these statistics, race and ethnicity were overwhelmingly the most common basis of discrimination. This is seemingly at odds with the, perhaps, rose-tinted notion that more progressive, enlightened and inclusive views rise up from our younger generations. Historically, the curve of progress bends upwards with each new generation progressing the causes of equal rights and humanity whether that be civil rights, gender equality or equal opportunities for the LGBTQIA+ community. In light of this, the rise of prejudice and hate-filled mind-sets amongst our children is deeply troubling. The general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders has commented saying that the figures were “disturbing” and reflected a deeper problem that continues to spread through-out society as a whole. Those responsible for fanning the flames of hatred are now influencing young minds and inciting a spike in racist violence which must be addressed.
It is impossible to deny that the new hate crime statistics over the last year correlate with the rise of and increasing prominence of far-right movements. The consequences of mainstreaming these hate-filled ideologies are vast, including the ease at which they are now trickling down and influencing our children. These toxic ideas about race and immigration notably shaped the public rhetoric surrounding Brexit, the French presidential election, and ultimately fed into the popularity and legitimisation of Donald Trump as U.S President. The far-right world view, which in part comprises of a belief in the superiority of whiteness and distain towards people from BAMER communities, has profoundly shaped the current political climate, fuelling the rise of hate crimes and prominence of extremist groups such as Britain First. In order to secure the continuation of progress, inclusion and acceptance we must work towards dismantling these detrimental viewpoints.
It is important to note that although these figures are disheartening, this rise in hate crime is also due, in part, to young victims feeling more empowered than ever before to speak out about their abuse and to report it to authorities. Reporting avenues and systems are now more effective and the culture of silence and shame around discrimination is slowly lifting. Although young people full of prejudice and hatred have been emboldened to speak out and act upon their beliefs, so too have their victims, who are standing up and refusing to ignore the injustice. This should give us hope that the curve of progress will still persist in the face of bigotry.
At JAN Trust, we work towards building a better future for young people and the next generation. Our Safeguarding from Extremism workshops educate young people to help them understand the dangers of extremist ideologies. To find out more about our school sessions please click here: https://jantrust.org/project/schools/.