YLE: Finnish schools do too little to address racial harassment

by , under Enrique Tessieri

A news story on YLE by students claims that little to no action is taken at schools to address racial harassment. At the beginning the teacher may take an interest in racist bullying but then interest wanes, according to the story. 

Migrant Tales has published some personal accounts about racial harassment at Finnish schools.

One common characteristic that groups these types of stories is the teacher, who doesn’t do anything to stop the bullying.

Racist bullying has happened at schools in the past, as Abdulah’s case proves, and happens today. You don’t have to be dark-skinned to be harassed. Russians, some of whom are white, get bullied as well, according to Aune, who grew up in the small town of Liperi in Eastern Finland.

She said that teachers did nothing to stop the harassment.

Migrant Tales reported in May 2013 about a black child called Julian who was harassed so much at school that his mother decided to move to Helsinki.

His mother said: “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 what she is saying to contain her tears. She succeeds).”

Näyttökuva 2014-5-1 kello 16.02.33
Read full story (in Finnish) here.

According to the YLE story, students and even some teachers take part in racial harassment. The story claims that teachers are more racist today than before and that this has a negative impact on the student’s studies.

“Teachers have pet students who are usually white,” said a seventh-grade student. “Classmates tell me that they ‘feel sorry for me when I hang around dark-skinned students.’”

Sara Chafak, who has Moroccan and Finnish parents, was chosen as Miss Finland in 2012. She said that she was racially harassed from nursery school because of her ethnic background.

Children who are under six years old attend nursery school in Finland.

“The first time I was harassed was at nursery school,” she continued. “I was called the n-word because I was the only dark-skinned [child].”

The former Miss Finland said that nursery school teachers did take action against such bullying but at elementary and middle school it was a different story.

Since teachers didn’t react to racial harassment Chafak didn’t care to complain to anyone, according to her.

Related post: Do “mamu” an “maahanmuuttajataustainen” downgrade people in Finland into “us” and “them?”