Does intolerance fuel racist harassment and abuse?

by , under Enrique Tessieri

We’ve written quite a few stories about racist bullying and the rise of an anti-immigration party, the Perussuomalaiset (PS), after the April 2011 elections. The Independent reports that the number of children seeking help in England for racist bullying “increased sharply” in 2013.

One of the reasons for the sharp rise in children seeking help for racist bullying is the heated public debate concerning immigration, which is impacting ethnic relations in the classroom, according to the daily.

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Read full story here.

Writes The Independent: “More than 1,400 children and young people contacted ChildLine for counseling about racist bullying in 2013, up 69 per cent on the previous 12 months. Islamophobia is a particular issue in schools, according to the charity, with young Muslims reporting that they are being called ‘terrorists’ and ‘bombers’ by classmates.”

The last story that Migrant Tales published on racist bullying was in April, when a black elementary school student was bullied so much at a Mikkeli school that his single mother was forced to move to Helsinki.

The mother of the bullied child wrote: “Soon the majority of his classmates started bullying him. They named him a black monkey and told him to go to the toilet bowl because the color of his skin was like the color of feces. (Sara stops for a moment to contain her tears. She succeeds).”

Many of the short accounts told by racist bullying victims on The Independent are sadly similar to what some children are experiencing in Finland.

Here’s one by “boy, age unknown:” “I’m getting fed up. People at school keep calling me racist names but the teachers aren’t doing anything. It’s really upsetting and I feel unsupported. I don’t know what to do.”

According to the story, one of the reasons why racist bullying continues at British school is because the teachers don’t do anything to address the problem.

A story on Kajaani-based Kainuun Sanomat reported in February 2012 that that some members of the Somali community of Finland experienced a rise in racist abuse after the PS election victory two and a half years ago.

While it’s difficult to prove a connection exists between the PS victory and greater racist abuse in Finland, any sensible person can surmise that greater intolerance and hatred is a poor way to challenge such social ills.

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