CHILDLINE ADVICE: The need to know racism is wrong and unacceptable
I’m only in year six, but at the beginning of this year somebody asked me if I’d been burned in the oven or in the sun. When I told my teacher they said I had to toughen up.
This child is one of many that have come to Childline to talk about their experiences of racism.
I would love to say this is an isolated report, but it isn’t.
We frequently get children contacting us in order to talk about racism, whether it’s something they’ve heard or seen in person or on the news, or something they’ve experienced directly.
As adults we know that racial bullying or discrimination is illegal, but children who are subject to racial abuse may be hesitant to talk about what has happened to them, or they may feel that they might make the situation worse by reporting their experiences.
This is why we all need to work hard in order to create an environment where children know that racism is wrong and should not be accepted, and to let children know that if they do experience racism – whether towards themselves or others – they can speak out and be listened to.
Lots of schools already have excellent policies as to how to tackle racism, and giving children the tools to know what racism is and why it’s important that we all take a stand against it.
However, sometimes it can be difficult as parents for us to know what to do to help.
With racism and racial injustice so prominent in the news at the moment, this can give us all an opportunity to start a conversation about racism, and the negative impact it can have on all our lives.
It can also open up an avenue of discussion with children so they know that can go to you if they have any worries or concerns, or have witnessed or experienced racism themselves.
Of course if your child has already experienced racism, this may be something that you’ve already spoken about at length.
It can be a difficult conversation to have, but talking about it and coming up with a plan to address it together can help them feel more positive about things.
And Childline is always there to talk to any child who needs us, about whatever is worrying them, on 0800 11 11 or at childline.org.uk