How to deal with racism

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By Sue Cowley — educational author and trainer

Use our new behaviour series to address diversity and encourage equality

Dealing with racism

Explore stereotypes that the children hold to examine and change their thinking

There is no simple answer to overcoming racist behaviour, as often children’s attitudes have been created and enforced outside of school by parents, other adults, and society as a whole. Change can be slower than we might like, but we cannot force children to alter their thinking. What we can do is encourage them to question the views they hold, understand why they are wrong, and also the effect their attitudes have on others.

In a school with a wide mix of cultures, backgrounds and faiths, children often move beyond stereotypical assumptions about race. It might not even occur to them that there is any ‘difference’ between their school mates. They will learn that they can play with, be friends with, and learn alongside others regardless of their background. Learning in a racially mixed school setting is perhaps the best way to challenge racist attitudes in the next generation. Though of course, there may still be issues with racist behaviour, and it’s vital for staff to address these.

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