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COMMENT: Punishments for racism in school relies on context
10:00am Saturday 4th August 2012 in Editorial Comment
A HEADLINE figure of 2,086 racist incidents in our state schools is shocking.
But, like most things, there is a need for context.
For the four years covered by this statistic, there were about 260-odd schools under Oxfordshire County Council ’s education umbrella. These figures relate to about 100 primary and secondary schools, meaning there were on average about five incidents a year.
That is set amongst a population of thousands of pupils.
There will be incidents of racial insults or attacks even that are not reported, however, we would hope that there is not a widespread problem.
Schools must remain vigilant and maintain a zero tolerance policy, because racism is a pernicious blight on our society that we must never turn our gaze from.
A form of exclusion, certainly in secondary school, is a must. But the severity of any action must be guided by context again.
Children are at school to learn, both factual knowledge and social knowledge, and headteachers must gauge if the behaviour is a result of ignorance or malice.
Tailoring the punishment to the cause will send out the message that racism will not be tolerated, but the basis for punishment cannot be undermined.
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