Xenophobic attacks on eastern European children in the UK have risen since the Brexit vote, as pupils are also accusing their teachers of failing to protect them and even joining in, a new study finds.
Research, conducted by the University of Strathclyde, found that 77% of surveyed pupils in England and Scotland had suffered racism, xenophobia or bullying – though they were often disguised as banter.
The respondents said they were verbally abused on the streets and on public transport, but physical attacks took place mainly at school.
Teachers were also accused of ignoring such incidents, or simply laughing along or joining in.
“The role of teachers, who were often said to be bystanders and did not intervene, or in some situations became perpetrators themselves, emerged as a profoundly important dimension of young people’s everyday experiences of marginalisation,” said Daniela Sime, author of the report.
She added: “Teachers were, on occasions, not only discriminatory in their practices, by ignoring young people’s presence in class, but also racist in the views openly expressed during lessons or through ignoring incidents of racism they overheard.”
To make matters worse, young people did not report such incidents “because teachers knew and did not act to counter the culture of racism and xenophobia, or because of their belief that teachers would not be interested.”
The attacks have become more frequent since the EU referendum in 2016 according to 49% of the students polled.
The study examined pupils mainly from Poland, Romania and Lithuania, who have lived in the UK for at least three years.
Although most teachers in England and Scotland are wholeheartedly committed to protecting students from racism, and encourage respect and tolerance, the growing number of xenophobic attacks on children since the Brexit vote is horrifying and unacceptable.
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