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article imageOp-Ed: Nursery school children reported for racist language in UK

By Katerina Nikolas     Sep 15, 2011 in World
School yard banter is getting children in the U.K. into trouble.Children as young as three years old, are being reported by schools to local authorities for using racist and homophobic language which brands them as bigots.
In the early part of the twentieth century Gaylord was a popular name to bestow upon ones offspring, but according to Urban Dictionary it is now the ultimate insult. Using the word today, along with the term broccoli head, which presumably has more connotations than referring to a purple sprouting vegetable, is enough to get a young child in the U.K. reported to the local authority and branded as a bigot.
According to the London Evening Standard, teachers are required to pass along the names of children, some still in nursery school, for using racist or homophobic language. The remit was approved under anti-bullying rules, as part of an amendment to the Race Relations Act 2000. This called for zero tolerance over racism and stipulated children from the earliest age should be educated against it.
The result of this policy is that school yard banter can now leave a mark on a child’s record as their speech crime is kept on file. The paper states that 20,000 children under the age of 11 have had their names passed onto local authorities, including the names of some children still at nursery school.
Very young children may not even have the slightest awareness of the meanings of some of the words they choose and may not intentionally be guilty of hate speech. Instead of the teacher perhaps correcting a child who uses an ill conceived word they are now obliged to file a report about it. The Telegraph reports that descriptions of such incidents, once recorded with local councils, can remain on a child’s record for years and even be used by police and social services.
The Manifesto Club, which campaigns for freedom in everyday life, has published a report criticising the policy. The report, entitled “Leave Those Kids Alone; How Official Hate Speech Regulation Interferes in School Life” states “These reporting systems are an inappropriate intervention into school life and children's play, and undermine teachers' ability to set a moral example to their pupils. Surveying and monitoring children’s speech is no route to an equal and tolerant society.”
The report’s author, Adrian Hart, is quoted in the Telegraph as saying “Teachers are being forced to report every trivial incident, which undermines their ability to judge how to deal with a situation. This petty bureaucracy only gets in the way of further equality.”Hart wrote a book on the subject in 2009, “The Myth of Racist Kids,” in which he says “The idea that three-year-olds can be ‘racist’ and require specialist to train them out of their prejudice, amounts to a notion that we are born sinners and only officialdom can save us.”With so much emphasis placed on this type of political correct bureaucracy, it is time consuming and detracts from the real business of school as a place for education. Britain’s schools, once renowned for their great education system, have now slipped to position 43 in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, as teachers are required to act as speech police in addition to their other duties.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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